Las Vegas Sun

May 15, 2021

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Bird decapitation lands law school grad in boot camp

Sentencing pushed back to April in bird’s slaying at Flamingo Wildlife Habitat

Justin Teixeira

Justin Teixeira

The man who beheaded an exotic bird in October 2012 at a Strip wildlife habitat was shackled today in Clark County District Court and is headed to a military-style boot camp.

The six-month boot camp stint is part of a guilty plea University of California, Berkeley School of Law graduate Justin Teixeira agreed to after he was charged with killing Turk, a 14-year-old helmeted guinea fowl, on Oct. 12, 2012, at the Flamingo’s Wildlife Habitat.

If Teixeira, who pleaded guilty in June, completes the roughly six-month-long boot camp at High Desert State Prison, he will be eligible for probation.

If he fails boot camp, he is looking at one to four years in prison for killing another person’s animal, a felony.

Offenders sent to the boot camp "are treated to a military lifestyle, that includes educational and life skills training, manual labor, and extensive physical training," according to the Nevada Department of Corrections. The program, prosecutor Frank Coumou said, is tough.

Coumou said it was clear Teixeira was dependent on alcohol, and it was Coumou's understanding Teixeira had already started seeking help through Alcoholics Anonymous.

If Teixeira makes it through boot camp and then gets through probation, which could last anywhere from one to three years, the felony charge could be reduced to a gross misdemeanor.

Teixeira was one of three men — all were Berkeley law students at the time of the crime — implicated in the bird’s death, but he was the one prosecutors pegged as the decapitator.

The other two men involved have pleaded guilty to lesser charges and have met the requirements of their pleas.

Eric Cuellar pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, paid a fine and restitution to the Flamingo, and was credited for jail time.

Hazhir Kargaran, whose involvement was discovered after footage of the death was found on Cuellar’s cellphone, negotiated a plea before being charged, Coumou said. Kargaran pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors and paid a $1,500 fine.

Teixeira is due back in court after he’s finished boot camp. His sentencing is set for April 14.

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