NJ man who shot parrot with pellet gun for interrupting NASCAR race enters PTI program


MORRISTOWN — A 67-year-old Randolph man has been accepted into a special probation program in Morris County for shooting his family's 20-year-old African gray parrot to death with a pellet gun last year.

Dennis Zeglin was admitted Wednesday by state Superior Court Judge Thomas V. Manahan into the county's pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders. If he successfully serves three years on probation, an animal cruelty charge will be dismissed, and he will not have a conviction on his record.

Under the program's terms, Zeglin also must complete 100 hours of community service assisting a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals or another organization that provides humane care to creatures. He also must comply with alcohol counseling and pay $1,000 for services and investigation done by the animal control officer for Randolph.

Zeglin declined to comment Monday. Defense attorney Stephen Fletcher could not be reached. He has said that Zeglin was intoxicated when he shot Mikey on June 7, 2009, because the parrot distracted him with its squawks as Zeglin watched a NASCAR race on television.

Zeglin's wife heard the shots and called police when she saw the bird had been shot.

Zeglin willingly turned over the pellet gun, a Daisy PowerLine Model 93, to police and immediately started intensive counseling for alcoholism, Fletcher has said. He has said his client was extremely remorseful over the death of the parrot, which had been in the household for two decades.

Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi said the decision to let Zeglin go into the program was made after careful consideration and proof that Zeglin was rehabilitating himself from alcohol dependency.

"While deterrence is always a consideration, so too is the fact that this defendant has taken significant steps to rehabilitate himself on his own. He is extremely remorseful," Bianchi said.

Zeglin must forfeit any weapons he owns and his firearms ID card.