Fowl Crime: Two Berkeley Law Students Arrested For Allegedly Beheading Bird In Vegas Casino As Joke

Two University of California, Berkeley, law students have been accuse of a disgusting crime in which they tore the head off a 14-year-old Helmeted guinea fowl in the Flamingo’s wildlife habitat and then laughed about it. Security cameras reportedly caught Eric Cuellar, 24, and Justin Teixeir, 24, chasing the bird into the trees and then carrying out its body and severed head as some type of hilarious joke.

While witnesses said that the two Berkeley law students were laughing and talkative while chasing and killing the bird, they refused to talk to police once they arrived at the scene. They both face felony charges of conspiracy and willful, malicious torture/killing of wildlife.

As a law professor, I am frankly appalled by the story. These students obviously worked hard to make it into a premier law school and have now thrown away their careers in a spasm of alleged senseless and inhuman violence. We have previously discussed these cases of cruelty to animals and how sentences tend to be relatively low when the victims are animals. However, people who would do such things to animals in my view represent obvious threats to society. It shows a callous disregard for the suffering of a living thing — even an element of enjoyment from the suffering or killing of an innocent creature.

The students should be given the opportunity to defend themselves before the law school takes any action to expel them. However, if they plead guilty or are convicted of these crimes, they obviously will be expelled and it will be difficult for them to become members of the bar if they find entry into law schools after serving any sentence. I have always favored an element of forgiveness for some students who come to law school with criminal records after showing rehabilitation and remorse. I have seen extraordinary people emerge from troubled lives. What is different in this case is that these students committed the alleged crimes after attained tremendous success in their lives. They may still be able to show such rehabilitation but they will meet with lingering skepticism and understandable anger if they are found guilty of this heinous crime.

The only likely defense would be the claim that they were intoxicated — a common problem in Vegas. While I am still concerned that alcohol would unleash a desire to torture an animal, they could claim that they were drunk and just chasing the bird. The beheading could be claimed as a result of their effort to grab the resisting bird. At least such an account (if accepted) would refute the suggested that they wanted to torture or kill the bird.

The defense could be critical not only in terms of a conviction but readmission to law school. The problem with an eventual reentry of the men into a law school is the underlying cruelty reflected in the crime. We cannot make lawyers better people in law school. We cannot make them sympathetic to the suffering of others. All of that is determined before they sit in our classes. However, we can keep out of the profession those people who have taken sadistic pleasure from the suffering of animals or people.

What do you think? Should these men be able to return to law school after serving time for such a crime if convicted?

Source: 5Vegas

41 thoughts on “Fowl Crime: Two Berkeley Law Students Arrested For Allegedly Beheading Bird In Vegas Casino As Joke

  1. Before I saw Zarathustra’s comment I was about to say: Off with their heads.
    But I will withold that until further thought. Someone in their home town needs to kick their asses no matter what the courts do to these punks.

  2. However, people who would do such things to animals in my view represent obvious threats to society.

    Tru dat.

    This kind of behavior is more widespread than we think, and it works its way to the top, since lawyers more and more are becoming a part of government.

    Judges, legislators, and presidents included.

    With this process mutating within human social evolution we move ever closer to destruction of the human and many other species, because we are driven by the myth as JT said (“carrying out its body and severed head as some type of hilarious joke“), and as Dylan said in lyrics:

    Their are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.”

    (Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower). When that works its way into government, then there arises a substantial threat to survival.

    Yesterday I covered (The Most Dangerous Moment in Recorded History) involving some new revelations by Robert F. Kennedy, and quoted sources showing that this great danger still exists in our society.

    Today the NY Times did likewise:

    The “eyeball to eyeball” imagery made for great drama (it features in the 2000 movie “13 Days”), but it has contributed to some of our most disastrous foreign policy decisions, from the escalation of the Vietnam War under Johnson to the invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush.

    If this were merely an academic debate, it would not matter very much. Unfortunately, the myth has become a touchstone of toughness by which presidents are measured. Last month, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called on President Obama to place a “clear red line” before Iran just as “President Kennedy set a red line during the Cuban missile crisis.”

    (The Price of a 50-Year Myth, emphasis added). Mike S has recently written about myth in American culture, so he has a new issue for that list of myths.

  3. Jobs at Goldman are in their future. Blankfien is impressed that they were doing God’s work.

    Total lack of empathy is very disturbing at best and should be punished with 10 years of volunteer work at the Humane Society..

  4. If you grabbed the fowl by the head, it is quite possible it would come off in your hand. I once went with a friend to hunt rabbits with his hawk and after the hawk killed a rabbit my friend asked me to pull the head off to feed the hawk [they seem to like brains], well a rabbit head comes off pretty easy so I imagine it isnt too much of a stretch to think a bird head would offer little resistance.

    But the guy on the left looks really creepy.

  5. Many sociopaths and psychopaths have history’s of torturing animals. Killing animals for amusement disgusts me personally, but each to his own.
    Their careers in law should be terminated permanently because this particular piece of behavior indicates their natures are prone to frivolous violence.

  6. “prone to frivolous violence” (Mike S)

    That is a perfect description and the basis from which any human should judge these 24 year old men.

    Obviously they took great pleasure in the frivolous violence so the next logical question would be: What sort of pleasure would they take from serious violence?

  7. Bron… I disagree with the ease in ripping a particular bird’s head off. When pheasant or grouse hunting, if you don’t get a kill shot and the bird is found or brought back by dog alive you take hold of its head and spin its body around in order to snap the neck and kill the bird. As grusome as that sounds, its much more humane than letting the bird die slowly in your hunting vest…. Doing so rarely pulls its head off.

    These birds are roughly the same size as pheasant and I can only believe that they purposefully tried to kill it and potentially they fully intended to take its head off…this was no accident stemming from simply grabbing the bird.

    There is a great difference between a hunter who goes out and kills its prey humanely as possible and two drunken fools who go into a protected habitat to rip the head off of a bird. It shows they have little regard for life and our society’s culture…not good qualities in lawyers.

  8. When I gamble in Vegas I run into assh@les like this all the time. They were born on second and think they just went yard. They sit down @ blackjack tables and goof on dealers. I give them sh@t for their disrespect and they amost always shut up. They don’t usually come to the craps table where I spend 90% of my time. They’re not smart enough to play craps and seem to sense you don’t mess w/ craps players or dealers. Because of guys like these I usually hit the sack by midnight in Vegas. That, and I’m an old f@cker.

  9. What Mike S. said, but strike the word “frivolous.” (Ted Bundy comes to mind. We probably haven’t seen or heard the last of these two punks.)

  10. “Someone in their home town needs to kick their asses no matter what the courts do to these punks.” -FairlyBalanced

    Another advocate for the thugs/vigilantes who are working the streets in our communities?

  11. Mike Spindell 1, October 16, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Many sociopaths and psychopaths have history’s of torturing animals. Killing animals for amusement disgusts me personally, but each to his own.

    Their careers in law should be terminated permanently because this particular piece of behavior indicates their natures are prone to frivolous violence.
    ================================================
    The term “frivolous violence” in young psychopaths and sociopaths is good to take note of as you do, because it grows up into mega-violence if not treated/prevented.

    Noam Chomsky has a piece in the Guardian where some of these types made it into the scenario where the U.S. Government activated the apocalyptic hide the government in an undisclosed location sequence:

    “We were damned lucky we didn’t blow up the world – and no thanks to the political or military leadership of this country.”

    (The Most Dangerous Moment – So Far).

  12. “We cannot make lawyers better people in law school. We cannot make them sympathetic to the suffering of others.”
    From my experience law school only seems to make them worse, seems to take the ethical out of people who went in hoping to do good in the world. When you have ‘people’ like these going in with a lack of humanity (animalanity) I would hate to see what law school would turn them into.

  13. leejcaroll,
    I cannot agree with you that law school makes people worse and less ethical. Are there bad attorneys out there? Of course, but your brush stroke is a bit too broad, imo.

  14. “All of that is determined before they sit in our classes. However, we can keep out of the profession those people who have taken sadistic pleasure from the suffering of animals or people.

    What do you think? Should these men be able to return to law school after serving time for such a crime if convicted?”

    *****************************

    I find unprovoked, remorseless cruelty to a defenseless creature a disqualifier for most every station in life.

  15. Bruce:

    “Cal Berkley, need I say more.”

    ********************

    U. Cal. Berkeley has around 27 Nobel laureates associated with it. How’s your school doing?

  16. I better give the disclaimer that I don’t abide cockfighting but it was a funny, non pc episode. Non pc is Larry David and Seinfeld’s specialty.

  17. If only these two psychopaths had beheaded Big Bird, they might have jobs waiting for them at the Romney Campaign instead of GoldmanSachs.

  18. “Should these men be able to return to law school after serving time for such a crime if convicted?”

    Absolutely not.

  19. “AY, LOL. But, what would Luca Brasi do?”

    Actually he would wind up sleeping with the fishes. Tough guys aren’t immune to either bullets, or garrotes.

  20. They are obviously studying the wrong subject (unless they are aiming to become prosecutors). They should really be training to become police so they can beat up drunks in synagogues.

  21. “As a law professor, I am frankly appalled by the story. These students obviously worked hard to make it into a premier law school and have now thrown away their careers in a spasm of alleged senseless and inhuman violence” (JT)

    What appalls me is the low life character it reveals, for an aspiring lawyer or, let’s just say, for a human being.

    While even alcohol, and being drunk, clearly effects one’s reasoning and clear thinking, there is a good case to be made that it also strips much of the external veneer and reveals a much more essential picture of the individual. In this case I would argue it’s a disgusting picture and, with some sensitivity to student hijinks and tarnishing one’s oh-so-bright legal future, I’m hardly swayed.

  22. Should these two be allowed back into law school?

    Nope

    We had an incident it seems about 20 years ago where two yahoos such as these two snuck into an animal petting zoo and tortured and beat a donkey to death with a baseball bat. A petting zoo!

    I can say without reservation when the incident hit the news, the entire State of Washington was outraged. It went across the complete spectrum of people, hunters, farmers, everybody wanted them put away or worse.

    A further upset happened when it became public knowledge that the worst the two could face as far as the assault in the animal was concerned was a Gross Misdemeanor offense of Animal Cruelty. At the time, animal cruelty was not a felony in WA. In fact, the judge told the two during their sentencing hearing he felt it was a manifest injustice that he could not send them to prison for years due to the misdemeanor nature of the offense. My memory isn’t very good on the case but I believe the judge also required them to spend a fairly long period of time working in a zoo or animal shelter to atone for their depravity.

    In fairly short order, the legislature acted and made animal cruelty a Class C Felony. So at least some good became of it.

  23. Darren Smith: “but I believe the judge also required them to spend a fairly long period of time working in a zoo or animal shelter to atone for their depravity.”

    I have always thought that was the most stupid and dangerous kind of sentence- if you have someone that has demonstrated violence to some group (animals, elderly, children etc.) the last place you want to put them is in a target-rich environment. That’s just nuts.

    As to the question posed in the Professors article I’m leaning toward ‘yes’ only because these guys aren’t just stupid-a**ed kids (mid-teen aged) that may need counseling and training on how to behave in society and help with a drinking issue; they’re in their twenties- their brains are pretty well fully formed and functioning.

    I hesitate to just say ‘yes’ though. If they have otherwise clean records just how heavy should a penalty be for a first offense? What if as a first offense (if it is a first offense) they were picked up for smoking a J or getting into a brawl with other drunks or doing some minor damage to some property? What would the school do? If I were the school I might want to have a trained mental health professional assess their character before I threw out years of teaching and student investment because they might be something, a sociopath or some other deeply damaged personality disorder.

    I’m just going to assume a very drunk guy got pissed because he had to chase the bird and killed it in that fit of drunken anger. Admittedly that’s a pretty shocking lapse. The typical stupid/drunk thing to do would be to catch it and turn it loose in the Casino and that may be how it started. I think that needs to be determined before the school acts.

    It’s probably good I’m not the dean of a law school, I’d dither until they had graduated and were in personal practice. :-)

  24. one of these guys on his own is bad enough but the two of them together is really scary. from my personal experience with lawyers, they fit the profile.

  25. LottaKatz:

    I understand your points, target rich environment might be a concern, I believe humiliation was the goal of the judge in the petting zoo case.

    There are sometimes cases that push the buttons of prosecutors, judges, the public, etc and vengence is often a result. They often involve kind of sacred cow cases that do not happen very often but when they do, emotions take hold and suspects probably should run for the hills. When this happens, offering a defense of being drunk or stoned is sometimes a bad defense for a person to muster because it causes even more emotional response.

    Probably good that I am not a Superior Court Judge either. My prison overfloweth.

  26. I feel so sorry for the bird; what a terrible way to die. Most people have empathy for living creatures. Granted, the creature is a bird, not a human, but lawmakers in New York State now recognize that people who are cruel to animals often progress to cruelty to humans and so they passed very tough laws, with stiff penaties including significant jail time, for animal cruelty.

  27. Also, evidently according to the police report, there was three people involved, though only two were positively identified.

    What would cause three people to do something so stupid and so cruel? Especially since these guys are not kids–they’re 23-24. That’s old enough to know better.

    Whatever exists in their mental makeup, it’s not what we would expect from the legal profession.

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