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November 30, 2015

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Cal law students charged in decapitation of exotic bird at Strip wildlife habitat

Updated Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 | 12:03 p.m.

Eric Cuellar

Eric Cuellar

Justin Teixeira

Justin Teixeira

Map of Wildlife Habitat

Wildlife Habitat

3555 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas

Two University of California-Berkeley law students have been charged for their alleged roles in an October incident that resulted in the decapitation of an exotic bird at the Flamingo’s Wildlife Habitat.

Clark County District Attorney Steven Wolfson announced the filing of criminal charges Thursday morning against Justin Teixeira, 24, and Eric Cuellar, 24.

A witness told security she saw two men, later identified as Cuellar and Teixeira, walk out of bushes in the habitat with the dead bird, a 14-year-old helmeted guinea fowl named Turk, on the morning of Oct. 12, according to a Metro Police arrest report. Teixeira, who was holding the bird, allegedly threw it toward Cuellar and said, "I (expletive) killed wildlife," the report states.

“This was a cruel and malicious act,” Wolfson said. “It is important to hold people accountable for their actions.”

Teixeira is charged with killing another person’s animal (felony), torturing, overdriving, injuring or abandoning animals (felony), conspiracy to torture, harass or abandon animals (gross misdemeanor), and instigating, engaging in or furthering an act of cruelty to an animal (misdemeanor). If convicted on all counts, Teixeira could be sentenced to time in prison, county jail time, probation, Wolfson’s office said.

Cuellar is charged with instigating, engaging in or furthering an act of cruelty to an animal (misdemeanor). If convicted, Cuellar could face a sentence of two days to six months in jail, 48 to 120 hours of community service, and a $200 to $1,000 fine, prosecutors said.

Surveillance video captured a third person with Teixeira and Cuellar following the bird, and Wolfson said an ongoing investigation could result in criminal charges against one or more additional individuals.

Shortly after news of the arrests became public, Christopher Edley Jr., dean of the Cal law school, issued this statement: "I'm extremely troubled by news accounts of the students' actions off campus, but it's up to the Nevada legal system to examine the facts and rule in this case. It's premature to speculate about any possible consequences; the justice system must run its course."

Teixeira and Cuellar, who were arrested Oct. 12, have been free on bond. The two face a Feb. 11 arraignment in Las Vegas Township Justice Court.

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