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NYU Student Sentenced to 45 Days in Jail for Albatross Murders

The Laysan albatross, a federally protected species, with its chick at the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve in Hawaii.

The Laysan albatross, a federally protected species, with its chick at the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve in Hawaii.

Courtesy of Lindsay Young

Courtesy of Lindsay Young

The Laysan albatross, a federally protected species, with its chick at the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve in Hawaii.

Jemima McEvoy, Managing Editor

Tisch junior Christian Gutierrez was sentenced to 45 days in jail for his involvement in a case that left over 15 albatrosses slaughtered in a Hawaii nature reserve in December 2015.

In addition to his immediate detention, Gutierrez was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and will pay $1,000 in restitution for damages to the nature reserve that reportedly totaled over $200,000. In sentencing, the court also rejected the defense’s request for a deferral of Gutierrez’s no contest plea, which would have permitted the defendant to seek an expungement of his record.

Although Gutierrez will be released from custody in time for the start of fall semester, his defense attorney, Myles Breiner, refused to answer whether Gutierrez plans to return to NYU in the new academic year.

In response to the ruling, a petition demanding the expulsion of Gutierrez has gathered almost 2,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. According to the coordinator, Timothy Pham, a letter attached to the petition will be delivered to key decision-makers at NYU, including President Andrew Hamilton, Chief of Staff to the President Rich Baum and Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Marc Wais.

NYU SpokespersonJohn Beckman said that due to federal privacy laws he is unable to discuss an individual student’s academic or disciplinary record. Hence, at this point any potential punishment from the university is unknown.

“I cannot comment other than to say that matters like these are handled on a case-by-case basis,” Beckman said in an email. “And the university is prohibited by law from discussing issues related to a specific student.”

The letter cited the violent nature of the crimes against the seabirds as justification for the demand to the administration — the albatrosses were shot with pellet guns, beaten with a bat and attacked with a machete to remove ID bands from their mutilated feet to use as souvenirs. The defendants later posted pictures of the murdered birds on social media.

“Christian Gutierrez, the oldest of the group, was an 18-year-old student at NYU at the time,” the petition reads. “As of July 6, 2017, he faces 45 days of jail time of the one year possible. His felony theft and 15 original counts of animal cruelty should not be overlooked by New York University. We are demanding the expulsion of Christian Gutierrez immediately.”

Executive Director of the Pacific Rim Conservation Group Lindsay Young said in a statement to Washington Square News that in her opinion, Christian should be allowed to continue at NYU.

“He has been punished for what he did and deserves the opportunity to resume his life once he is released from prison,” Young said. “People may not like that sentiment, but to me, punishment and forgiveness are not mutually exclusive. I believe in both and even as a victim of his crime, I believe he’s been punished enough.”

Gutierrez was charged with three misdemeanors and two petty misdemeanors in court on Thursday for the crimes that were committed along with co-defendants from his Honolulu prep school. The charges dropped dramatically from the original 19 — including animal cruelty and theft — when Gutierrez agreed to testify against others who may have been involved.

Spokesperson for the Honolulu prosecuting attorney’s office Chuck Parker said that although Gutierrez was sentenced to less jail time than the prosecution initially proposed, there were positives to the judge’s sentence.

“We wanted more jail time but we are very happy that there was no deferral — that the deferral request was denied,” Parker said.

Before Gutierrez was sentenced, he apologized to the court and those who work at the Kaena Point nature reserve. He was subsequently handcuffed and escorted from the room.

“People have every right to be angry and disgusted with my behavior,” Gutierrez said in court, according to a report from Honolulu Civil Beat. “I’m disgusted with my behavior, too. I wish I had the courage not to go along, but I didn’t. I’ll have the memory of that forever.”

Young said that the Pacific Rim Conservation Group is grateful for all of the community and professional input that led to the conclusion of this case, although its end has been bittersweet.

“While we are relieved to be closing this painful chapter and feel that justice has been served for our wildlife, we also recognize that any time a young person is sent to jail is a sad day,” Young said.

Email Jemima McEvoy at [email protected]

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12 Responses to “NYU Student Sentenced to 45 Days in Jail for Albatross Murders”

  1. Viochita Fea on July 9th, 2017 4:10 pm

    Why associate your program with this privileged horror of a person?

  2. Demetri Prince on July 9th, 2017 5:59 pm

    I think it will be better if he doesn’t come back. If he does he will be celebrity for all the wrong reasons and people wont let hime take his classes in peace. Id he is logical he will recognize this and choose another university where his crimes aren’t known. I think he should ave received more time in jail and the fines do not cover the loss at all. He was the oldest. Using the “Im sorry I wasn’t strong enough to walk away” speech is disgusting and doesn’t make any sense. This also seems like going to NYU hasn’t changed his character.

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  4. A Moore on July 10th, 2017 6:52 am

    The punishment does not meet the crime in this case. It looks like the judge gave a 45 day sentence so he could be released in time to attend NYU. And, the fine of less than 1% of the damages is unfair to the Conservation Group who will have to shoulder the rest; 200 hours of community service – where? He should be working to right the wrongs he committed, although, you cannot replace the lives of 15 innocent birds.
    This boy, who says he was “not strong enough to walk away”, had a legal strategy to get out of additional punishment, esp. in light that he then testified against the others. Since when does the oldest in a crime group not have influence over the younger participants? Looks, sounds, and smells like an entitled brat who worked the system. He bargained his way out of a more severe sentence. And I assume that he wants us to feel sorry for him when he says he will have that memory forever – not the case. He participated in a horrendous crime.
    That being said, the court at least did not defer his sentence so it will stay on his record. Let him live his life and PROVE that he regrets what he did and do something FOR conservation efforts. If he can afford to go to a university that costs over $70,00 a year – he should be able to PAY more money than $1,000 to help with the costs associated with his crime..Step up and make restitution on his own – probably not.
    Anyone who performs acts like this should be in some serious counseling. This is not NORMAL in any sense and he needs help – not just a few days in jail, minimum volunteer hours, and a petty monetary fine.

  5. Demetri Prince on July 10th, 2017 9:22 pm
  6. Diablos Advocate on July 12th, 2017 4:27 am

    One of your comments is spam – to get people to borrow $. Alas, no way to report to anyone to have it removed or the poster blocked.
    I’m gonna hazard a guess that no one that supports this young man being able to return to school is posting because of anticipated personal attacks.
    IF anyone had bothered to actually READ the news article, they’d have noted that the PROSECUTOR said they were “very happy” — and commented on “positives in the judge’s sentence.”
    This young man is EIGHTEEN years old. Were his actions wrong? Absolutely. Do we end his life for it? No. Absolutely amazing that we’re living in a political culture that has our president calling for ‘punching’ people; showing videos of him beating up reporters, and verbally, very openly advocating VIOLENCE …and a large segment of our population has cheered him on ….and followed his ‘directions.’ This young man made a HORRIBLE decision – but I don’t see why or how withholding education from him is the solution … to anything.
    As far as those who have signed petition I’d bet majority haven’t even READ the article. — we have TOO many sheep.
    And if your purpose here is to provide “news” encouraging or allowing petitions (that give impression they have your support) isn’t appropriate.

  7. Whocares on July 12th, 2017 9:51 am

    Ok- so the guy that thinks he shouldn’t be expelled from school? I hope you’re joking. Are you unaware that animal cruelty (and MUTILATION in this case) is a RED FLAG for hurting people in the future?! If I was a parent of any other kids HIS age, I would NOT want my kid to have to sit next to him in a class room. It’s bad attention for the school and UNSAFE for the OTHER students. Give him a slap on the wrist, he’ll go to school, then 5-10 years we’ll hear about him murdering his girlfriend. They took the ankle tags as “SOUVENIRS”, the word they SHOULD have used is TROPHIES- and that is by far the BIGGEST red flag. Serial killers ALWAYS take TROPHIES. If he didn’t WANT to remember it, he wouldn’t have posted it on Facebook and he WOULDN’T have taken a TROPHY! He WANTED to remember because hurting them made him feel GOOD- otherwise, he wouldn’t have taken the souvenirs. And when you get JOY from HURTING an animal, you’ll sure as hell get joy from hurting a person- its about POWER. It doesn’t just go away because he gets 45 days in jail- if ANYTHING it’ll get worse after the other inmates put thoughts in his head.

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NYU Student Sentenced to 45 Days in Jail for Albatross Murders