After initially denying he choked the bird to death last month, the 30-year-old homeless man pleaded no contest to a charge of animal cruelty.
Sergio Alvarez appeared in a Van Nuys courtroom Friday where he entered a plea of no contest to the misdemeanor charge. Superior Court Judge Jessica Silvers sentenced the transient to 60 days in jail and placed him on probation for a period of one year.
During the late afternoon of Aug. 22, witnesses saw a man near the Malibu Pier. He had both hands around the neck of a bird and was choking it. One of the witnesses was quoted in LAist as saying the pelican "flapped its wings in distress until its body went limp."
A witness flagged down a sheriff's deputy who arrested the man, later identified as Alvarez, and recovered the body of the dead bird. The body of the pelican was later turned over to the California Wildlife Center.
Alvarez initially denied killing the pelican. Sgt. Michael Holland was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, "He said he was hungry. [He said] he found the bird dead and was going to eat it."
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the homeless man later admitted he killed the pelican. He told deputies he caught and killed the bird because he was hungry and was unable to catch any fish that day.
As CBS News Los Angeles reports, even though California Brown pelicans are no longer an endangered species, they are fully protected by the state. California's Department of Fish and Game states a lot of pelicans are showing up on beaches and near fishing piers. The department urges people not to feed the birds so they do not become acclimatized to being around humans.
Alvarez will serve his sentence in the county jail.