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Justin Teixeira, UC Berkeley law student, pleads not guilty in Las Vegas exotic bird killing case

Eric Cuellar, 24, (left) and Justin Teixeira, also 24, are accused of killing an exotic bird at a Las Vegas casino on October 12, 2012.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police via CBS SF Bay Area

(CBS/AP) LAS VEGAS - An attorney entered a not guilty plea Monday on behalf of Justin Alexander Teixeira, a University of California, Berkeley, law student facing felony animal torture and killing charges in the beheading of an exotic bird at a Las Vegas Strip resort.

PICTURES: Crimes against Animals (GRAPHIC IMAGES)

Teixeira and a friend are accused of decapitating a helmeted guineafowl in a wildlife habitat exhibit at the Flamingo Las Vegas on Oct. 12, 2012.

Teixeira, 24, who police said lives in Placerville, Calif. and attends Berkeley, was not present in court Monday.

Michael Pariente, Teixeira's attorney, issued a statement afterward saying he intends to deal with the case in court, not in the media.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Bill Kephart set an April 24 hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for Teixeira to stand trial in state court.

Teixeira is accused of felony animal killing and torturing charges that could each get him up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine. He could also get  misdemeanor instigating or engaging in animal cruelty and conspiracy to torture an animal charges carrying the possibility of time in the county jail.

A felony conviction could block Teixeira's admission to a state bar and jeopardize his legal career.

Another Berkeley student charged in the case pleaded guilty Jan. 10 to a misdemeanor instigating an act of cruelty to an animal charge.

Eric Cuellar, 25, of Berkeley, was fined $200 and ordered to pay $150 in restitution to the Flamingo. He was also ordered to serve 48 hours of community service and enroll in an alcohol counseling class.

The Flamingo wildlife habitat is a garden area with ponds and streams that contains several different types of birds.

Police say Teixeira, Cuellar and another person are seen on security videotape chasing the gray bird to a spot near where the body was found. The video has not been made public.

A witness identified Teixeira and Cuellar and told police she saw Teixeira throw the bird's body at Cuellar.

Police said the bird's body was found on a walkway, and the head was found amid some nearby rocks.

More on CrimesiderJanuary 11, 2013 - Eric Cuellar, UC Berkeley law student, pleads guilty in Las Vegas exotic bird killing caseDecember 28, 2012 - Law students killed exotic bird at Las Vegas resort, prosecutors allege
October 15, 2012 - Law students arrested for allegedly beheading exotic bird in Las Vegas

  • Crimesider Staff

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