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Posted on Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

Jackson man who violently shook his mother's pet parrot sentenced to 10 months in jail

By Heather Lockwood

A Jackson man convicted of violently shaking his mother’s pet parrot on an Ann Arbor street in September was sentenced to jail today for torturing an animal.

Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Melinda Morris sentenced Christopher Alan Turpen today to 10 months in jail with credit for 101 days served.


Christopher Alan Turpen

Turpen's lawyer, assistant public defender Stephen M. Adams declined to comment on the sentencing.

The Amazon parrot named Labamba is currently with the Humane Society of Huron Valley.

Adams said a sentencing agreement called for Turpen, 50, to receive no probation.

Matt Schaecher, supervisor of cruelty and rescue at the Humane Society of Huron Valley, told in February, it is unknown whether the bird is male or female, as the only way to determine a parrot's sex is through a blood test.

As of late February, Labamba continued to live in Schaecher's office.

Ann Arbor police told in September that Turpen, who kept the Amazon parrot in his backpack, shook it violently in the 1000 block of South Main Street as its feathers flew, causing enough commotion for three witnesses to call 911. Officers arrested Turpen on Main Street at 9:30 p.m. Sept. 21 and found an unspecified quantity of marijuana in his backpack, Ann Arbor police Lt. Mark St. Amour said.

Steve Hiller, Washtenaw County chief deputy assistant prosecutor, told last month that a controlled substance charge against Turpen was dismissed at his preliminary hearing Oct. 13.

Turpen told police he was disciplining and training the bird. Police said the parrot fought back, leaving one of Turpen's thumbs scratched and bloodied.


Labamba in his cage at the Humane Society.

Ypsilanti Township residents Marie Keehl and Tom Pokryfky, interested observers of the case, told last month they have rescued a number of pets, including a type of parrot called an umbrella cockatoo.

They say parrots are intelligent and have the ability to remember things in the long term.

"That bird will never forget (Turpen)," said Pokryfky. "(He) will remember that abuse forever."

Pokryfky, who attended the sentencing hearing today, said he thought Turpen should have received both a jail sentence and probation.

“It wasn’t stiff enough, it was way too lenient,” he said after the sentencing.

Pokryfky also expressed concern for the bird and its permanent living situation.

In February, Schaecher told, if Turpen is convicted, the humane society will seek permanent custody of the bird and attempt to adopt it out. He also said Labamba occasionally favors one of its legs, and the injury near its eye has healed.

Adams said today that Turpen would like to see the bird returned to his mother.

Schaecher could not immediately be reached for comment today and it is unclear whether the humane society still plans to seek permanent custody of the bird.

Heather Lockwood is a reporter for Reach her at or follow her on Twitter.



Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 3:42 a.m.

Some people shouldn't have pets of any kind. Some people shouldn't have children. Abusiveness toward animals or people who are unable to defend themselves is a despicable thing. As for proportionate punishments: no one can say that our justice system is working well. It snagged one despicable person this time, but we all wish the system would snag all the despicable people. Other countries have a lower percentage of their population in prison than the U.S. I don't think that's about our justice system: I think it's about our degraded standards and the loss of a sense of community and self accountability.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 8:28 p.m.

1 - stupid story. 2 - how can an embezzler of over $300k in Manchester get no jail time, but this loon gets 10 months...


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 8:24 p.m.

Woman gets 12 months for faking that her son had leukemia in order to shake down friends and relatives for donations: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> This guy gets 10 mos for shaking down a parrot. I guess 10-12 is the going time for a shake down...


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

They held a man in jail for 101 days awaiting trial for shaking a bird and the bird didn't even die? This is proof that the Humane Society is a danger to humanity and should be shut down. Those who conduct witchhunts should be jailed themselves.

Kevin McGuinness

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

I agree we need more balance and common sense in our courts. Guess what I get to do something about it -- Washtenaw County Judges are elected. It should not be hard to find someone on the ballot more balanced than Melinda Morris. I am sure all the parrots in Washtenaw county will sleep more peacefully knowing we are paying to lock this poor man up in jail for 10 months::

Moscow On The Huron

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

The guy just wanted to be a Parrothead like some of the rest of us. He just didn't realize he didn't have to actually go out and get a parrot's head.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

Judge get real it is a stupid bird . We as a society are protecting birds more thaan we protect our children and victims of assault. And now the low life bird assaulter will be fed and housed on our tax dollars instead of him paying us. Let him work in the bird santuary for ten months cleaning up bird poop !

Bertha Venation

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

Stay away from my bird!!


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:49 p.m.

It's a good thing the bird didn't die. Can you imagine the sentence he would have received for that? What a joke!


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

Wonder what criminal they are going to let out of jail to make room for this guy. rapist? armed robber? drunk driver?

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:31 p.m.

Animal abuse cases should be dealt with swiftly and harshly. No human, no matter how infirm, should be allowed to abuse an animal. No one. I applaud Melinda's sentence and I want a cracker. - Poly

Tom Joad

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

awk, never-more


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 11:39 a.m.

My son was attacked by a gang at a local high school and had to have his jaw wired shut and the three students who did it got off without spending a day in jail even though they plead guilty. They were also ordered to pay restitution for his medical bills and did not. It would appear that a parrot is held in higher regard than a human based on the sentence this knucklehead received. Unbelievable waste of jail space and resources while those who assault humans are free to do more damage.

Constance Colthorp Amrine

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 11:04 a.m.

YES! I'm grateful for the sentencing. Sorry that probations have been applied to lightly to other crimes against people, but I think cruelty to innocent victims whether birds, children or adults is UNACCEPTABLE, and so.I'm pleased with the judge's decision. I'm disturbed by the number of uncaring comments on this page that seem to NOT GET the cruelty issue. This is sick and scary that anyone could be so EMOTIONALLY DISCONNECTED to do something like this. Again, sorry that other violent crimes have not received similar or appropriate sentencing, but this one is a start.

Constance Colthorp Amrine

Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 3:23 a.m.

Kai...I get that. The problem is it's a logical fallacy. Tu quoque. I am offended by the swan crime too, the gang attacks against teens, the violence against women, men and children all mentioned here. But because the sentences were not appropriate in those circumstances is a problem with those sentencings. Not this one. This one, in my opinion, is right on and a relief.

Kai Petainen

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

Constance.... the point is, that other crimes... to animals and the environment (like the Huron Spill) go unpunished and unsolved.... and crimes to people are given lesser punishments as well. If he had shaken his parrot in private, attacked a human, or polluted the huron river with oil, he may have gotten off without any charge.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 10:31 a.m.

As others have said, the sentence, compared to others, is absurd. The fact that this story was the lead in Tuesday's email shows how has gone to the birds... Wait, I forgot that a lot of the staff lost their jobs earlier in March, since no story was ever written...

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 4:52 a.m.

As the owner of a (very smart and incredibly personable) parrot, my first instinct is to say, &quot;YEAH!!!!&quot; However......I've read about child molesters getting lesser sentences. A slap on the wrist, or something like that. So, I'm conflicted. I hate violence against anything living. BUT, I believe people are worth more than animals (sue me, PETA). And it bugs me a little to know this guy is getting a lesser sentence than some that violate children. However, score one for parrots. They can be (freakishly) smart. And, wonderfully loving.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 4:28 a.m.

I mean why do I have to read this as the top story of the day. I regret voting for you back in 2000, Melinda. And as for you, Heather, you disappoint me and wast my time.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 3:38 a.m.

I wonder what would happen if he ate the parrot? Probably tastes like chicken. I hate to see animals being harmed but this sentence is ridiculous. Not to mention the cost to try and imprison the guy. Our society is going insane. A small fine and a good tongue lashing should have be sufficient. I think the judge needs some sensitivity training toward humans. Also get a new assistant prosecutor. What a waste of time and money.

Will Warner

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 3:21 a.m.

If the perp has a serious anger or cruelty problem, then this sentence is fitting. If he just lost his temper once, then probation would have been more like it. Parrots can be pretty annoying.

Moscow On The Huron

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 3:09 a.m.

... and the woman who stole $1M from the youth hockey association got no jail time.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

It's just money, comrade!


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

Let me get this straight.'s lead story is about a parrot. And this on the day that Rick Snyder signed a law in which language was inserted at the last minute to reduce unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks. And this here in Michigan where unemployment has been higher for longer than any other in the union. For shame, This is craven disregard for the public's right to know about issues that are profoundly reshaping this state. And why is it necessary to impose such a miserly cut? Because tax cuts for business have left unemployment insurance underfunded. Oh, let's continue talking about a parrot.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

I would like to see the bird returned to his mother, if she is able to care for it. (but what happens after 10 months?) Personally, if he was my son, he would not be allowed back in my home. I have 0 tolerance for animal abuse!

Kai Petainen

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:57 a.m.

no one was ever charged for the sheen that these geese are swimming towards. (and yes, i could smell it) <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Kai Petainen

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:54 a.m.

send a petroleum sheen towards a couple dozen canadian geese in gallup. no charge. hurt one parrot. 10 month charge. i guess it all depends on the type of bird.

Moscow On The Huron

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:16 p.m.

Canada geese


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:42 a.m.

So when I shoot and kill ducks with my gun, with a license it's okay. When I wing a pheasant and ring it's neck (violently shaking it tell it dies), it's humane, but this guy shakes a parrot and get's 10months? How about the people who shake babies, I bet they only get a slap on the wrist (instead of the life in prison they deserve). I give up.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.

You do pheasants; ring it's neck violently until they die. Gross.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 10:36 a.m.

That's called Planned Parenthood and they have rallies of support in the Diag.

Fat Bill

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:36 a.m.

It was self defense yer honr' the parrot was after my weed...


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:26 a.m.

You really have to wonder if career morons are running the legal system over there, eh? We cant keep a serial rapist in jail for more than a year or two but we got the bird wacker with the goods and were gonna put him away till he rots. Must be U of M grads.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:23 a.m.

bird is the word. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hee ha ha ha.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:34 a.m.

Give me a break. The US has the most people of any country in jail, for things like shaking birds. Think about it for a minute. How about jail time for Obama using my tax dollars for an illegal war in Libya.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 9:51 p.m.

Bush/Cheney should have been prosecuted for using our tax dollars for involving us in the endless war in Iraq....on false pretenses. There were no weapons of mass destruction.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:25 a.m.

Ya man don't say nothing bad about Obama in here. Liberals in Ann Arbor worship him him like Muslims worship Allah.

David Briegel

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:58 a.m.

How about jail time for the Wall St Banksters that literally stole trillions from all of us?

David Briegel

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:56 a.m.

Wow, then you would have hung Bush! You obviously didn't listen to his speech!


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:17 a.m.

He wouldn't get that kind of sentence for shaking his kid. And there would not be the same outcry!


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 11:36 p.m.

How about a little common sense and balance in the courts? An Ypsilanti man who climbed a Pittsfield Township woman's balcony last fall — and assaulted another man trying to keep him out — has been sentenced to probation. An Ann Arbor man was sentenced to probation for stabbing another man after they bumped into each other on the sidewalk last fall A Superior Township man who shot his own son during a family dispute earlier this year was sentenced to probation


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 3:28 a.m.

That's our court Judges, thank God i know there is a God, because otherwise, i would like to live on a desert island.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

Lucky they did not do that to a parrot or they would really be in deep trouble.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:12 a.m.

I did not mean to infer that this guy should be let off. I do think 10 months is a little stiff considering Judge Morris's record of leniency on much more egregious crimes.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:06 a.m.

this was a good sentence... and the others should have been more harshly treated. To let animal abusers off, as you seem to suggest, doesn't help humans....esp. since animal abuse is in fact often a 'gateway' to human abuse.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

Can you imagine when another inmate asks Turpen what he is in the joint does Turpen spin this one?

Bertha Venation

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 3:48 p.m.

Note to Prisoners: Mind your bird... Danger lurks about.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 10:13 a.m.

LOL...good one! But in reality before he gets there, the inmates will know. Gossip underground. And one inmate NEVER asks another one what they are &quot;in for&quot;. It's against code.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 2:22 a.m.

You get my vote Roadman


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.

Found guilty of fowl play!

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 11:57 p.m.

That's really a foul fowl!


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 11:43 p.m.

He flew off the handle! He Ran afowel {sic} of the law!

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 11:23 p.m.

The Birdman of Ann Arbor?! Or Bird Brain?


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 10:56 p.m.

Way to go Melinda, you let embezzlers off with a hand slap, and really make an important statement with this one.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9:45 p.m.

Does this count as bullying?


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:06 a.m.

Do you mean Melinda's sentence?


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9:36 p.m.

It's ironic that reports the same day on a marijuana-addicted parrot that now is homeless, and a seemingly homeless man found dead at a campsite, and that readers quickly respond in their outraged numbers to the story on the bird and let the dead human pass with scarcely a comment. Self-righteous outrage seems to have its limits.

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 10:10 p.m.

Good thing neither was a dog!

zip the cat

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9:35 p.m.

Only in the courts of ann arbor can you kill someone driving drunk and get probation But look out,you shake a bird and you get 10 months in the can and with good time off he'll do less than 6 months. No wonder crime is rampant in tree town.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 2:37 a.m.

Actually, your statement is horribly off base. People get YEARS in jail for that. Look up court records if you don't think it's true.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:09 a.m.

Zip, at least birds feel a lot safer.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9:28 p.m.

People who abuse animals like that are to be pitied. And jailed.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 9:45 p.m.

Sorry. I don't pity those who abuse animals.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:11 a.m.

I have a hard time feeling pity for Turpen. Lucky the Birdman of Alcatraz is ot around or else Turpen might face his wrath.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9:26 p.m.

Remember that marijuana is a gateway drug. Given the amount that the parrot had in its bag, I can only assume that it should have been cited for intent to distribute. For good measure, I would also have recommended that the parrot's cage be searched for other signs of drug use and distribution... probably hiding amongst newspaper shreds. I can only empathize with the poor man who was managing the parrot while it came down from a wicked buzz. Where's the justice for the drug dealing parrot, I ask?!?!

Bertha Venation

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 3:45 p.m.

Ya. Search the bird's cage. I'm sure you'll find a crack pipe under all that newspaper.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:08 a.m.

Maybe that parrot can be a Hash Bash co-master of ceremonies.

Marshall Applewhite

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9:24 p.m.

What is this world coming to? Since when was a pirate unable to discipline his parrot as he sees fit?

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

your new photo is really YOU!


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

I couldnt agree less with lounsbury, as long as the birds are well cared for... Glad this clown got a punitive sentence. Hope he doesnt get out before his time's up. Hope to meet the parrot and chat about his views on all this at the humane society where i volunteer. P.S. The redemptive power of bird keeping is very touchingly portrayed on the 'animal planet ' show &quot; TAKING ON TYSON&quot; in which mike tyson comes off quite sympathetically as a keeper and trainer of racing homing pigeons.

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

bedrog, he wasn't aka Burt. He was played in the movie by an acting Burt! LOL!! You should have checked with your pal Roadman! lol


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

...and don't forger robert stroudt,( sp?) the 'birdman of alcatraz' ( aka burt lancaster) who became a published expert in avian medicine and genetics from a prison cell.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 10:22 p.m.

there is a similar flock of feral parakeets in chicago and in austin texas...they survive cold weather in the heat generated by huge communal nests.

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

That was a good show! There was a documentary about a bunch of escaped parrots that flocked and bred in San Francisco. The Parrot's of _______Hilll. I can't recall the name? It was an interesting story of a man who found some redemption in the care of the birds.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

I am happy that this defendant got sentenced to jail over what he did. He should also get some probationary oversight. The best part of the story is that Labamba survived and is doing better The poor parrot was an obvious victim of fowl play.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

The problem is this if this guy would have done that to a person he would have received probation. Lets face it, you will do more time for hurting animals than you will for hurting human beings. I don't like people who hurt animals but I really don't want people who hurt human beings out on the street to make room in the overcrowed jails for people like this guy.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 11:41 a.m.

If he would have beaten you he would have gotten no jail time.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:43 a.m.

Yes, real high end criminal here. What type of prison to you suggest? Gitmo?

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9 p.m.

birds shouldn't be pets. Now go ahead and beat me up for saying that....I can take it.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 10:10 a.m.

Craig, I agree. I am an animal lover. I feed wild birds year around. They are meant to be free. No cages. But then I feel the same way about people who use drugs and don't hurt others. No cages.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 2:45 a.m.

@ Craig, I concur, but until the appetite for exotic b irds is curbed it will be a commodity for south America, kind of like Cocaine

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:37 a.m.

Huron74, I'm not suggesting the parrot in question be released to the wild. I just don't think birds were meant to be caged and/or have their wings clipped. Just my opinion.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9:30 p.m.

I don't think long time pet animals can be released into the wild Craig. I may be wrong but I don't think so. Aren't they a tropical bird?


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9:14 p.m.

Christopher Alan Turpen may agree with you. It has cost him ten months in the Washtenaw County Jail. Hopefully he will think twice next time he considers harming a pet.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9:03 p.m.

you got that slightly wrong ( or left out a few words): it should have read : &quot;sadistic clods shouldnt be pet bird owners&quot;.