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Law school graduate receives probation in Vegas bird death

| Monday, May 12, 2014, 8:54 p.m.

LAS VEGAS — A University of California, Berkeley, law school graduate was sentenced Monday to up to four years' probation and 16 hours of animal shelter work per month for beheading a chicken-sized exotic bird during a drunken escapade in October 2012 at a Las Vegas Strip resort.

Justin Alexander Teixeira, 25, apologized on Monday to the state of Nevada and to people affected by the death of the helmeted guineafowl named Turk.

“It was the worst moment of my life,” Teixeira said in his first public comment. “If there was anything I could do to undo it, I would.”

Security video showed Teixeira and two other Berkeley students — Eric Cuellar and Hazhir Kargaran — laughing and chasing the bird in a wildlife habitat garden area. To the horror of hotel guests having breakfast nearby, Teixeira wrung the animal's neck, tossed the bird's body and flipped the head into some nearby rocks.

Cuellar, 26, and Kargaran, 27, each pleaded guilty last year to reduced misdemeanor charges. Each was fined and sentenced to community service.

Teixeira of Placerville, Calif., pleaded guilty in May 2013 to one felony charge of killing another person's animal. He avoided trial on that charge and two other felony counts that could have gotten him up to eight years in prison.

Defense attorney Michael Pariente told Clark County District Court Judge Stefany Miley that Teixeira received top honors in the program.

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