A University of California, Berkeley, law school graduate has taken a plea deal in the beheading of an exotic bird last October at a Las Vegas Strip resort, officials said Thursday.
Hazhir Kargaran, 26, appeared in Las Vegas Court on Wednesday and pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of instigating an act of animal cruelty, malicious destruction of property, and trespass in the death of the helmeted guinea fowl at the Flamingo hotel-casino, defense attorney Josh Tomsheck said.
Prosecutors allege Kargaran and two friends, Berkeley law students Justin Alexander Teixeira and Eric Cuellar, were intoxicated after a night of partying when they were videotaped by casino security cameras chasing the bird through a wildlife habitat while hotel guests had breakfast Oct. 12.
Teixeira, 25, is accused of ripping the bird's head off with his hands after the three men cornered it.
Teixeira pleaded not guilty May 13 to felony animal torture and killing another person's animal charges that could get him up to eight years in prison and jeopardize his legal career. Trial is scheduled Oct. 14 in Clark County District Court.
Teixeira also faces trial July 24 in Las Vegas Justice Court on misdemeanor animal cruelty and conspiracy charges that could get him up to 18 months in county jail.
His lawyer, Michael Pariente, declined comment Thursday.
Tomsheck said Kargaran engaged in the chase but had no intention of actually harming the chicken-sized bird named Turk.
"It was not premeditated or planned," Tomsheck said, "and (Kargaran) wasn't the one who killed the animal."
Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman sentenced Kargaran to two days in county jail and imposed a one-year suspended sentence amounting to probation, a $1,000 fine and a share of $150 restitution, alcohol counseling and 48 hours of community service, prosecutor Frank Coumou said.
Jail records showed Kargaran was due for release Friday from the Clark County Detention Center.
Cuellar, 25, pleaded guilty in January to a misdemeanor charge of instigating an act of cruelty to an animal. He was fined $200 and ordered to pay a share of $150 in restitution to the Flamingo, serve 48 hours of community service and undergo alcohol counseling.
Coumou said Cuellar provided prosecutors with cellphone video evidence, and a woman told authorities she saw Teixeira throw the decapitated bird's body at Cuellar. The hotel and cellphone videos have not been made public.
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