Suspected killer of Gaylord the ostrich may face trial

A 19-year-old man accused of fatally shooting an ostrich at an El Granada ranch during a night of drinking on Halloween may be going to trial after a plea deal was not reached Tuesday.

Prosecutors said that at about 1:30 a.m. on Halloween night last year, Tim McKevitt and his friend, Jonathan Porter, 20, were drinking with a group of friends when they stumbled upon a ranch that contained ostriches owned by Karen Schmidt. The group approached Schmidt’s three sleeping ostriches to pet them. One of the ostriches, named Gaylord, awoke and attacked them, causing minor injuries to some in the group.

Prosecutors said Porter and McKevitt subsequently retrieved a shotgun and rifle, returned to the ranch and allegedly pumped “seven successive gun shots” into Gaylord from about eight feet away before fleeing the scene.

McKevitt has pleaded not guilty to felony animal cruelty charge. A court has set a trial date for July 16.

“An agreement wasn’t reached [Tuesday] but that doesn’t mean that a plea won’t be reached by the trial date,” said Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti.

Porter has already pled guilty to felony animal abuse charges and possessing a firearm. In March, Porter was ordered to three years probation and animal cruelty counseling. Porter was on probation at the time of the shooting for felony grand theft that occurred two years ago in Half Moon Bay.

McKevitt has no criminal history and is free on $25,000 bail. His attorney, Alex Reisman, did not return calls for comment.

Porter and McKevitt could have eluded charges had it not been for Schmidt’s persistence.

Shortly after discovering her ostrich dead, Schmidt embarked on a campaign to find the perpetrators. She posted fliers on corner poles and business windows throughout Half Moon Bay and El Granada. Schmidt said that Porter and McKevitt, who were allegedly spotted ripping the fliers down, confessed to the incident to Schmidt and offered to pay for a new ostrich. Schmidt reported them to the Sheriff’s office on Nov. 5.

Schmidt did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

bfoley@examiner.com

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