A promising law student’s legal career was soaring like a bird until both the bird and his potential were decapitated by a violent act, as we reported earlier. Justin Alexander Teixeira is a third-year Berkeley law school student who, on a drunken night in Las Vegas with friends, allegedly decapitated an exotic bird and chucked its body parts at his friends. Facing several different animal cruelty charges, a conviction means that he will be ineligible to practice law in the state of California.
The charges allege that Teixeira and two other Berkeley students chased, caught, tortured and mutilated a gray, helmeted guineafowl named Turk that was owned by the Flamingo Las Vegas Casino. The Associated Press reports that security footage shows the trio chasing the bird to a walkway in the casino, where the bird’s headless body was later found. The surveillance footage suggests that the students were intoxicated. Court documents do not show exactly how the bird’s head was severed.
The casino’s security footage is supported by cellular telephone footage from co-defendant Eric Cuellar’s phone, and a witness who is willing to testify that she saw Teixeira throw the bird’s body at Cuellar.
Cuellar himself pled guilty on Jan 10 to a misdemeanor charge of instigating an act of cruelty to an animal, for which he was fined $200, ordered to pay $250 restitution to the hotel, serve 48 hours of community service and undergo alcohol counseling. The third Berkeley student may still be charged in the case.
Teixeira is facing charges of animal killing and animal torture, which could lead to a felony conviction and up to eight years in prison. He also faces lesser animal cruelty and animal torture charges which could result in up to 18 months in county jail. The Associated Press says that Teixeira is expected to plead guilty at his arraignment on May 13.
Teixeira is in his third year at University of California, Berkeley’s law school, and the 25 year-old told the court that he has excellent grades. Those grades, however, won’t matter if he is convicted of a felony, which would prevent him from being admitted to any state bar, essentially shutting down his chances of practicing law. Of course, if he is in prison, he might not be able to take the bar at all.