By Daniel Langhorne & Rebeccah Glaser
Two Chapman University students accused of stealing and mistreating Orange High School’s beloved Tim the Turkey pled guilty on Thursday to entering an animal enclosure without consent, according to Orange County Superior Court records.
Steven Koressel, 23 and Richard “Brent” Melbye, 21 were sentenced to one day in jail, one year of probation and 100 hours of community service. But both men were initially arrested by the Orange Police Department and served one day of jail, meaning the jail time is credit for time they already served.
In addition to the sentencing, Koressel and Melbye must each submit a DNA sample to the Orange County District Attorney's DNA Unit by Oct. 1, as well as maintain a length of 100 yards away from Orange High School at all times, said Roxi Fyad, spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney.
Koressel and Melbye were also ordered to pay a total restitution of $447 to Saddleback Animal Hospital, where the turkey’s evaluation and observation took place, Fyad said.
"We carefully reviewed the detailed reports of Orange Police Department and filed the charge we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt at jury trial," Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Malone. "That is the Orange County District Attorney’s Office filing standard for filing charges."
Lolita Kirk, the defendants’ attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The community was shocked Thursday to learn Tim the Turkey was euthanized earlier in the week. Patti Williams, an agriculture teacher at Orange High School, told the Sentry on Thursday.
Orange Councilman Mike Alvarez said he was sad to hear Melbye and Koressel walked away with just one day in jail. Over the first few months after the incident, he advised Williams not to euthanize the bird.
"I thought it would incite things even worse," Alvarez said. "(Tim) just never recovered."
Alvarez said he hopes that something good will come from the turkey's death, namely a foundation that would raise money to improve the fences and other security measures at Orange High School's Panther Farm.
“Chapman University learned today of Orange High School’s decision to euthanize Tim the Turkey, and we join with the school and community in sorrow for this loss," Chapman spokeswoman Mary Platt said. "Although we are unable to comment on any legal process -- or on the University’s disciplinary actions -- due to federal student-privacy laws, we reiterate our support for Orange High School and the Orange Unified School District, our partners through the many educational programs that Chapman sponsors there."
The Sentry will continue to update this story.
Tim the Turkey (File Photo)