A 19-year-old college student accused of killing seabirds at an Oahu nature reserve pleaded not guilty today to animal cruelty.
Defendant Christian Gutierrez didn’t speak with reporters as he and his attorney left a Honolulu courthouse after the brief arraignment.
He turned himself in to the state Department of Public Safety last week and was released on $25,000 bail. He made arrangements with prosecutors to surrender while he was home in Honolulu for winter break from school, defense attorney Myles Breiner said. Gutierrez attends New York University.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources began investigating after three Laysan albatrosses were found dead last year in Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve. There were also 15 destroyed nests with smashed, dead or missing eggs, the department said.
The Laysan albatross is a federally protected species.
Court documents charging Gutierrez, a 2015 Punahou School graduate, with 14 counts of animal cruelty and other charges say the crimes took place Dec. 27, 2015.
Breiner said last week that his client was camping at Kaena Point with schoolmates from Punahou.
“He was there when this happened but he did not injure any birds,” Breiner said. “He didn’t do it. He didn’t maim or touch the animals, period.”
Breiner said there have been two other arrests related to the case that are being handled in juvenile court.