A 2015 Punahou School graduate pleaded no contest in state court today to animal cruelty and other charges in connection with vandalism and the killing of 15 Laysan albatrosses at Kaena Point.
Christian Gutierrez, 19, pleaded no contest to one of 15 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty against him, misdemeanor theft, petty misdemeanor criminal property damage and two counts of prohibited activities regarding wildlife and in a natural area reserve. The birds were killed in December 2015 when Gutierrez, a New York University student, was home for the holidays.
As part of his plea deal with the state, Gutierrez has agreed to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of others. His lawyer Myles Breiner previously said that his client was camping at Kaena Point with schoolmates from Punahou.
Gutierrez faces maximum one-year jail terms for the misdemeanors, 30 days for the petty misdemeanors, and fines.
Breiner, however, has asked the court to defer the no contest pleas to give Gutierrez the opportunity to avoid conviction. Circuit Judge Jeannette Castagnetti will decide whether to defer the pleas or sentence Gutierrez in June.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which owns and manages the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve, said birds were killed and numerous nests were destroyed in December 2015. In addition, Pacific Rim Conservation, which manages predator control in the reserve, reported some of its equipment had been stolen and damaged.