NYU's Independent Student Newspaper

Washington Square News

NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case

A+dozen+albatrosses+were+slaughtered+and+photographed+dead+in+Kaena+Point+Natural+Area+Reserve+in+2015.+Tisch+sophomore+Christian+Gutierrez+has+been+charged+with+the+crime+along+with+two+others%2C+who+are+minors.
A dozen albatrosses were slaughtered and photographed dead in Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve in 2015. Tisch sophomore Christian Gutierrez has been charged with the crime along with two others, who are minors.

A dozen albatrosses were slaughtered and photographed dead in Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve in 2015. Tisch sophomore Christian Gutierrez has been charged with the crime along with two others, who are minors.

John Harrison

John Harrison

A dozen albatrosses were slaughtered and photographed dead in Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve in 2015. Tisch sophomore Christian Gutierrez has been charged with the crime along with two others, who are minors.

Jemima McEvoy, News Editor

An NYU student has further endangered a number of already in danger albatrosses. In court on Thursday, Tisch sophomore Christian Gutierrez pleaded no contest to five charges — including animal cruelty and theft — after a dozen albatrosses were slaughtered in a Hawaii nature reserve.

Investigations at the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve by the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources began in December 2015, when Executive Director of Pacific Rim Conservation Lindsay Young said that the group received an email from a friend with pictures of the dead birds in positions that were not a result of natural mortality.

“It was clearly intentionally caused by humans and not caused by predators or other natural events,” Young said. “The photographs released of the severed feet show clean cut marks indicating some kind of knife was used to cut them off.”

According to a nest inventory of the reserve, trespassers had significantly damaged the species and habitat of the Laysan albatross — a federally protected species. The inventory reported that there were 12 missing adult albatrosses, a number of smashed, missing or dead eggs and 15 destroyed nests out of the 45 documented nests at Kaena Point.

Gutierrez is one of three classmates from a Honolulu prep school charged for this incident. His statement filed in court said that he was camping in Kaena Point with others when they entered a prohibited area, and the trio participated in illegal activities that resulted in the death of numerous albatross birds and eggs and the destruction of equipment owned by the Pacific Rim Conservation Organization.

Gutierrez originally pleaded not guilty in December after being charged with 19 criminal counts but accepted a plea deal on Thursday, which — in exchange for the prosecution dismissing his 14 remaining counts — will require him to testify against others who may be involved. Gutierrez’s attorney said that pleading no contest protects his client from the threat of collateral civil action — simply put, the defendant must show liability to avoid being involved in a civil settlement.

Spokesman for the Honolulu prosecuting attorney’s office Chuck Parker told Washington Square News that this result affirms the defendant’s help in gathering evidence.

“Essentially the plea deal was agreed to to get Gutierrez’s cooperation for a testimony against others who may be involved in the case,” Parker said. “We agreed to him pleading no contest to fewer charges than he was originally charged with, but he has to cooperate with us and provide evidence against others who may be involved.”

During his hearing on Thursday, Gutierrez requested a deferral of his no contest plea from the court. Gutierrez’s defense attorney Myles Breiner said that if the court accepts the deferral in June when he is sentenced, Gutierrez will be free to seek an expungement of his record.

If deferral is awarded by the court, Breiner said that Gutierrez must adhere to numerous conditions outlined by the court in what he called a potentially arduous process similar to probation, but Breiner said there is no guarantee that the court will accept his request.

“For certain offenses you have a one-time opportunity to have it erased from your record, provided you do whatever needs to be done in terms of probation,” Breiner said. “It is a type of sentencing and if the court grants the motion for deferral, effectively Mr. Gutierrez has no conviction.”

Breiner said that Gutierrez is a candidate for deferral of no contest, because he is a first-time offender with a clean record.

Parker said that because the other two involved in this case are juveniles, they will be tried in family court and their information cannot be released.

According to Breiner, the prosecution recognized that Gutierrez was not the ringleader of this incident. Yet, because he was the only offender to be tried as an adult, he has received the majority of the social media backlash.

“He has become the poster boy for this type of crime, which is considered by many people to be a heinous crime,” Breiner said. “[The public is] willing to place Mr. Gutierrez front and center as the image of violence toward protected species, and that is very troubling to me.”

Breiner said that Gutierrez attached a written statement to the plea agreement accepting responsibility and apologizing for the death and destruction of the habitat. Breiner also said that Gutierrez has promised to repay and provide restitution to the Pacific Rim Conservation Group proportionate to the stolen and damaged equipment and the fines — he also said that Gutierrez is in the process of making a public safety announcement video supporting the efforts of this organization.

As far as disciplinary action, NYU spokesperson John Beckman said that the university is prohibited by federal law from discussing what action may be taken in reference to a certain student.

“I will say that the incident as described is shocking, disgraceful and senseless,” Beckman said.

Young said that although repairing the equipment damage has been relatively straightforward for Pacific Rim Conservation, she also said that assessing the damage done to 14 years of research and data has been complicated. And Young said that from a scientific standpoint, the damage done to this site has ruined one of the best long-term datasets on albatrosses anywhere in the world. As a result, she believes that the plea deal does not come close to approximating justice.

“If you approach an animal that is not going to try to escape because it is guarding its eggs, and you not only smash its egg, but rip it apart while alive and then save an ID band as a souvenir, one you had to get by dismembering a limb, for entertainment, and you do it more than a dozen times, you have no conscience,” Young said. “Being charged with misdemeanor theft and only one count of animal cruelty — when dozens were killed and tortured — is just appalling.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 20 print edition. Email Jemima McEvoy at [email protected]

Related Stories

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






9 Comments

9 Responses to “NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case”

  1. stop killing albatrosses! on March 20th, 2017 6:31 pm

    “[The public is] willing to place Mr. Gutierrez front and center as the image of violence toward protected species, and that is very troubling to me.”

    You know what I find troubling? That this little psycho took a machete and literally beat 12 birds to death – beat their eggs in front of them – and then cut off their feet with a knife. He sounds like a lunatic. Torturing and murdering animals is a known sign of being a serial killer.

  2. Manoo Hahammi on March 22nd, 2017 1:08 pm

    NYU please prove you are not the home to every kind of immoral and debased actor. This person is exactly the type who must never be allowed to have a degree.

  3. G.A. on March 22nd, 2017 5:05 pm
  4. Dayna on March 27th, 2017 11:40 am

    This little psycho and his friends needs to do some jail time and it must stay on his permanent record!!!!

  5. Blue Nose on May 18th, 2017 4:59 am

    On June 1st Christian Gutierrez will be sentenced for his part in the Kaena Point Albatross slaughter and the sentencing will be open to the public. We are encouraging anyone who has the time and interest to come- the more people there, the more the court will see that people care about this case and it’s outcome. There is still a chance that he will get jail time . It will be in the first circuit court (across from restaurant row at 777 Punchbowl, Honolulu) from 11am-12pm in Judge Castagnetti’s courtroom.

  6. Joyce Lebra on May 23rd, 2017 5:12 pm

    I have seen these albatross on a visit to Midway Atoll, where they have the right of way over all vehicles and are protected. Even there they suffer from the effects of environmental damage.
    That they were killed by a psychotic individual is a major crime that should be punished by jail for many years. No plea deals should excuse him from appropriate punishment

  7. Tai Crouch on May 24th, 2017 3:56 pm

    I am saddened that anyone would deliberately take the lives of 15 majestic birds and their eggs. The fact that the three individuals walked 15 minutes with the tools necessary to kill these birds indicates a severe problem. If these three are allowed to continue leading their privileged lives without punishment, I fear they will go on to commit more crimes.
    At the very least, full financial restitution should be made. Why have laws if we will expunge guilt because the defendants are young.

  8. Patricia Saunders on May 24th, 2017 9:58 pm

    This was an act of unspeakable cruelty, it was planned and carried out with methodical planning. This group of boys, who grew up in wealthy, privileged families, weren’t just “camping” in the area; they entered that area with a full array of weapons they would use to smash the eggs, cut off the Laysan albatrosses’s legs — while they were still alive — and destroy 25 years of work to save these endangered birds. The setback to Honolulu conservation is enormous; it will take 10 years or more to recover. The financial costs, too are prohibitive–a conservative estimate is more than $200,000. And who should pay that? taxpayers? citizens of Hawaii? No, this little monster and his friends. As a former resident of Hawaii, I cannot tell you how this fills me with disgust. If people can’t come to the fragile islands and show some basic respect, stay away. If it were up to me, this little bastard wouldn’t have gotten a plea deal, he would be in jail.

  9. Brete Peterson on May 29th, 2017 4:11 pm

    Brete Peterson

    I have been suffering from (HERPES SIMPLEX) disease for the past four years and had constant pain that really drove me crazy,especially in my knees. During the first year,I had faith in God that i would be healed someday.This disease started circulating all over my body and i have been taking treatment from my Doctor, few weeks ago i came on search on the internet if i could get any information concerning the prevention of this disease, on my search i saw a testimony of someone who has been healed from (Hepatitis B and STAGE3 cancer) by this Man Rick Simpson, and he also gave the email address of this man and advise we should contact him for any sickness that he would be of help, so i wrote to Rick Simpson, telling him about my (HERPES Virus) he told me not to worry that i was going to be cured!! hmm i never believed it..well after all the procedures and remedy given to me by this man few weeks later i started experiencing changes all over me as the Dr assured me that i have been cured,after some time i went to my doctor to confirm if i have been finally healed, behold it was TRUE, So friends my advise is if you have such sickness or any other,here is an email you could possibly reach him on:[email protected]}

Comments that are deemed spam or hate speech by the moderators will be deleted.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case

    NEWS

    Gene Jarrett to Replace Gabi Starr as CAS Dean

  • NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case

    NEWS

    SPS Changes Lead to Firing of 10 Faculty Members

  • NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case

    NEWS

    Leonard N. Stern School of Business Commencement ‘17

  • NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case

    NEWS

    Global Liberal Studies Commencement ‘17

  • NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case

    NEWS

    School of Law Commencement ’17

  • NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case

    NEWS

    Graduates of 185th Commencement Stand for Honor in the Face of Challenge

  • NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case

    NEWS

    School of Medicine Commencement ‘17

  • NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case

    NEWS

    College of Arts and Science Commencement ‘17

  • NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case

    NEWS

    Silver School of Social Work Commencement ’17

  • NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case

    NEWS

    School of Professional Studies Commencement ‘17

NYU's Independent Student Newspaper
NYU Student Accepts Plea Deal in Albatross Killings Case