A Bird Story

DALLAS (AP) — Prosecutors say a pet cockatoo that was killed while trying to protect its owner from an attacker produced evidence crucial in convicting the man’s murderer.

Kevin Butler’s 18-inch white-crested cockatoo, named Bird, flew at the Daniel Torres during the Christmas Eve 2001 attack and pecked him in the head, drawing blood. Torres wiped the blood and then touched a light switch, leaving his DNA at the crime scene, authorities said.

His DNA was also found on the handles of two knives used to attack Butler, prosecutor George West told jurors.

Torres was convicted Tuesday of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison for Butler’s slaying in Pleasant Grove.

“This bird spoke; he spoke to us,” West told jurors. “We know this bird will attack anybody who is attacking his owner. And who did he attack? Daniel Torres.”

Torres had said in a confession that he stabbed the bird with a fork because it pecked him “all over my head.” However, on the witness stand Tuesday, he denied the account and blamed the crime on his half-brother, who is to stand trial later. He had worked for Butler’s pool company and had had a falling out with Butler, Torres said.

Defense attorney Phillip Linder told The Dallas Morning News he didn’t think the cockatoo played into the jury’s decision.

“I think that even without the bird — the crime scene, the photos and the way the victim was bound — it was a violent struggle,” Linder said. “The state had a lot of evidence.”

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