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UC Berkeley law school grad gets boot camp in Las Vegas bird death

LAS VEGAS — A University of California, Berkeley, law school graduate was handcuffed and taken to a Nevada prison boot camp Wednesday for beheading an exotic bird during a drunken chase at a Las Vegas Strip resort.

Justin Alexander Teixeira, 25, said nothing as he was sentenced as expected to a little more than six months in the camp.

He could serve another three to five years of probation before he can ask to have his felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, prosecutor Frank Coumou said.

The judge scheduled a probation sentencing hearing for April 14. Teixeira could face up to four years in state prison if he violates terms of the deal.

His attorney, Michael Pariente, called Teixeira extremely remorseful and said the incident happened while Teixeira was "heavily intoxicated."

Teixiera has been volunteering in recent months for the Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in California, Pariente said, and was grateful to have an opportunity to avoid a felony conviction under his plea agreement.

Outside court, Coumou noted that Teixeira should learn next month whether he passed the California State Bar exam he took in July. He'll be serving his boot camp sentence at High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs, outside Las Vegas.

Whether Teixeira is admitted to practice law in California could on depend on whether a felony remains on his record. A statement on the bar website notes that people convicted of violent felonies or felonies involving moral turpitude "are presumed not to be of good moral character." But it allows room for a pardon or "a showing of overwhelming reform and rehabilitation."

Coumou said Teixeira has been undergoing substance abuse counseling.

Teixeira, of Placerville, Calif., pleaded guilty in May to one felony charge of killing another person's animal. That avoided trial on that charge and two other felony counts that could have gotten him up to eight years in prison in the October 2012 death of a helmeted guineafowl named Turk at the Flamingo hotel-casino.

Security video showed Teixeira and two other Berkeley students laughing and chasing the chicken-sized bird the morning of Oct. 12, 2012, to the horror of hotel guests having breakfast nearby.

Teixeira wrung the animal's neck, tossing the bird's body one way and the head into some nearby rocks in a wildlife habitat garden area.

The other students — Eric Cuellar, 25, and Hazhir Kargaran, 26 — entered pleas to reduced misdemeanor charges, were fined, and sentenced to community service.

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Find Ken Ritter at http://twitter.com/krttr .

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