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Wacky Wednesday: Parrot Has Murder Evidence? Can This Eye Witness Take The Stand?

Does the Witness Want a Cracker?

We hear all the time that witness testimony can be unreliable, and that it can be difficult to get a conviction even with supposed eye witnesses. How much more difficult would it have been if the only potential eye witness you have to the crime is an animal, albeit a talking animal? No, we haven’t suddenly been transported into a cartoon. In 1993, there was actually a murder case in California that almost had a parrot providing testimony in the court.

Wait, What? Was a Parrot on the Witness Stand?

It didn’t reach that level, but in 1993, a defense attorney involved in the case said that he believed that the parrot, named Max, may have the answer to who committed the crime. He even thought that there was the possibility that the parrot could be called as a witness. It’s important to remember that as funny as it might be to imagine a parrot giving testimony, the impetus of this case came from the murder of a young woman, Jane Gill, who was smothered to death in her apartment in 1991.

The Parrot’s Evidence

Max, an African grey parrot, was not actually going to be on the stand, of course. However, they had wanted to introduce testimony about what the bird had said. When the authorities went into Gill’s apartment, they found her body, and they found a very emaciated and dehydrated bird. He’d not been watered or fed since her death two days earlier. Max went to a pet shop and was nursed back to health. While there, the pet shop owner claims that Max said, “Richard, no, no, no” repeatedly.

The Parrot Denied His Day In Court

Was the bird talking about someone named Richard who was hurting Gill? The man who was charged in the case was actually Gill’s business partner Gary Rasp, and not anyone named Richard. Rasp claimed innocence. Rasp’s lawyer had requested that a private investigator follow up with what was happening with Max, but as soon as they started down this road, the DA objected, and the judge disallowed it from being added to the case.

Who Done It? What The Court Ruled

It turned out that Gary Rasp was convicted of killing his business partner in order to obtain the $2 million life insurance proceeds it offered. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the crime. Rasp claimed that he had found her body, and he was the one to call the authorities to the scene. Though he still proclaims his innocence, his former fiancée told officers that Rasp had confessed to the murder to her. She also said that Gill was in love with Rasp and made him the beneficiary of the life insurance policy. She also claims that Rasp only pretended to have affection for Gill.

What was the truth of this case? Was it a love triangle gone bad? Was it all about the money? Did Rasp do the deed? Was there a mysterious Richard and did Max have the answer? Chances are good that the right man is in jail, but this is one of those odd cases that really make you wonder what really happened.

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