Animal Law, Boalt Hall, Crime, Deaths, Law Schools, Sentencing Law, Violence

A Final Guilty Plea in the Berkeley Bird Beheading

Left to right: Eric Cuellar, Hazhir Kargaran, and Justin Teixeira (click to enlarge).

Lawyers and Las Vegas are a dangerous combination. Just ask the lawyer who allegedly inflicted almost $100,000 in damage on a suite at the Encore Hotel.

Sin City seduces law students too. We’ve extensively covered the sad story of how three Berkeley law students, while visiting Vegas on spring break, killed a helmeted guinea fowl named “Turk” at the wildlife habitat of the Flamingo Hotel.

Two of the students, Eric Cuellar and Hazhir Kargaran, already pleaded guilty. So it should come as no surprise — with his co-defendants having cut deals, and with reported video footage of the incident as possible evidence — that Justin Teixeira copped a plea as well.

What kind of sentence did Teixeira get? It doesn’t sound that bad to me….

Here’s a report from the Las Vegas Sun (via the Las Vegas Law Blog):

The last of the University of California, Berkeley students implicated in the October death of an exotic bird on the Las Vegas Strip has pleaded guilty to a felony charge.

Justin Teixeira, who graduated in May, pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing another person’s animal. The Clark County District Attorney’s Office pegged him as the decapitator of Turk, a 14-year-old helmeted guinea fowl, on Oct. 12, 2012, at the Flamingo hotel’s Wildlife Habitat.

The Class D felony carries with it a sentence of one to four years in prison with the option of probation and a maximum fine of $5,000.

Teixeira’s accomplices, Eric Cuellar and Hazhir Kargaran, pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and received light sentences — two days in jail and 48 hours of community service apiece. Teixeira, who apparently took the lead in the bird beheading, had to plead to a felony. And his sentence is harsher as well:

Teixeira agreed to surrender to the Nevada Department of Corrections to attend a four-month boot camp program for young first-time offenders. If he completes the program, he will be eligible for probation.

Boot camp doesn’t sound terrible. While his fellow Boalt Hall graduates are toiling away at law firms and gaining the freshman (or first-year) fifteen, Justin Teixeira will be honing his already fine body under the hot Nevada sun. I’m imagining a shirtless Teixeira, wearing nothing but tiny orange prison shorts, going for a long run in the desert, followed by push-ups, crunches, and squats.

So boot camp could actually be an opportunity for Teixeira. Does it count as “employed upon graduation” for Berkeley?

But life after boot camp will present challenges, as the Las Vegas Law Blog suggests:

[Y]ou have to suppose this going on his record will not benefit him financially in the future. While it is unknown whether Teixeira intends to apply to the bar anywhere, it is certain he will be reporting this and will likely be dealing with the consequences of it for some time to come….

While I’m disappointed to miss out on a company-sponsored trip to Las Vegas to cover Teixeira’s trial, which had been scheduled for the fall, I’m also fine with moving on from this depressing tale. And I suspect the Berkeley bird beheaders are ready to get on with their lives too. Finding a good legal job in 2013 is hard enough without “bird murderer” on your résumé.

Justice For Turk [Las Vegas Law Blog]
Prosecutions conclude for law students involved in bird decapitation [Las Vegas Sun]

Earlier: Pulling ‘The Hangover’ In Real Life Will Get You Arrested And Sued
ATL Field Trip: Viva Las Vegas
Berkeley Bird Brain Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty Charge

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