Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

UC Berkley Law Student to Stand Trial in Senseless Bird Murder

Justin Teixeira, left, and Eric Cuellar

Justin Teixeira, left, and Eric Cuellar

Investigators in Las Vegas are tightening the noose around the neck of accused bird murderer Justin Teixeira and a suspected accomplice in the senseless decapitation of an exotic bird and ensuing game of catch with its remains at the Flamingo Hotel’s Wildlife Habitat sanctuary.

On April 24, 2013, Justin Teixeira waved an evidentiary hearing in connection with felony charges of killing and felony torturing of an animal, which if convicted would spell the end of his chosen career as an attorney; convicted felons are not admitted to the bar.

The case began on October 12, 2012, when UC Berkley law students Teixeira and Eric Cuellar were seen by witnesses tossing the head of a 14-year-old Helmeted Guinea Hen between them “laughing and joking about the fact of what they had done.” Surveillance footage, which has not been released, confirmed that the students had chased the terrified bird into a wooded area and emerged, one with the head the other with the body, playing catch with them. The bird’s body was found on a path, its head in a rocky area nearby. It is believed that use of alcohol may have fueled the crime.

A witness identified Cuellar and Teixeira in 2012, though police are still investigating the possibility of charges being filed against a third suspect, whose identity has not yet been made public. Charges were filed against both young men in Clark County back in December of that year.

In January 2013, Cuellar pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of instigating, engaging in or furthering an act of animal cruelty. He paid a $200 fine, paid $150 in restitution and was ordered to serve 48 hours of community service and enroll in an alcohol counseling class. He may still be admitted to the bar if he passes.

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