Column: Here’s hoping bird killers don’t fly away so easily

When experts say that torturing animals is a sign of potentially more serious violence, I believe them. That’s why I wanted to attend the 9:30 a.m. Oct 16 sentencing of the despicable character who decapitated a bird at the Flamingo and played with it like a toy.

I wanted to see a monster, a University of California-Berkeley law school graduate who pulled a bird’s head off with his hands, just for fun.

Unfortunately, I will be out of town, so won’t see Justin Teixeira sweat bullets before District Judge Stefany Miley, waiting to see whether she will accept the plea bargain — or not.

Teixeira, 25, is one of three loathsome men, all Berkeley law students at the time, involved in killing a 14-year-old helmeted guinea fowl at the Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo.

I don’t have to put allegedly in front of their names. They’ve admitted it.

Last October, this trio of fools — Teixeira, Eric Cuellar and Hazhir Kargaran — were arrested and spent two days in jail after torturing and killing the bird named Turk. Teixeira was the one who actually did the beheading and was charged with three felonies. He is pleading guilty to killing another person’s animal. Two additional counts of torturing and killing will be dropped.

There was a witness who saw Teixeira tossing the dead bird’s headless body to Cuellar while Kargaran captured it on video from his cellphone, providing pretty damning evidence for a trial. The horrified witness reported it to hotel security.

The free attraction near the Flamingo pool includes flamingos, swans, ducks, koi, pelicans and turtles. Who dreamed that could be a crime scene?

Cullar pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of instigating an act of cruelty to an animal and was sentenced to a paltry 48 hours of community service and ordered to pay $350 in fines and restitution. Turk’s value was set at $150.

Kargaran pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor charges — instigating animal cruelty, malicious destruction of property and trespassing. His sentence: 48 hours of community service and $1,150 in fines and restitution. Oh, and he was told to take an alcohol awareness class.

The misdemeanor pleas by Cuellar and Kargaran probably won’t stop them from practicing law, but a felony conviction is another matter.

Shortly before he was going to trial, Teixeira decided to plead. His attorney was preparing the “booze made me do it” defense, saying Teixeira was drunk that morning. If he was drunk that morning, what other damage could he have managed before his day ended?

Teixeira has pleaded guilty to one felony under the plea bargain and will be ordered to a boot camp at Nevada State Prison for six months. If he completes his time successfully (in other words, without killing or mutilating any creatures or people), he will be allowed to withdraw his felony plea and plead to a misdemeanor.

That may allow him to practice law.

The real sentences should follow these three the rest of their lives. Anyone who Googles their distinctive names is unlikely to hire them as an attorney. Who would hire a bird killer? I would think it would cut down on their social lives as well.

Kargaran told the Daily Californian he wanted to apologize to the Berkeley community. “I am very sorry for what happened to the bird,” he said. “I want people to know that I am not someone who thinks killing or harming animals is fun, funny or acceptable.”

That actions are louder than words adage seem to make Kargaran’s apology sound insincere. Let’s see how sincere Teixeira seems in court because he is likely to garner plenty of news coverage.

Judge Miley doesn’t have to accept that plea deal that saves this jerk’s legal career. And really, does he belong in the legal profession? Do any of them?

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at or call 702-383-0275.

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