Ostrich killer gets three years probation 

For Karen Schmidt, the vivid image of her dead ostrich on Halloween brings back horrific memories.

"His body was just lying there. I was really upset and so broken," she said.

On Thursday, Jonathan Porter, 20, of Half Moon Bay, was given three years probation and animal cruelty counseling for killing Gaylord, Schmidt’s 400-pound ostrich, with a shotgun at close range. Porter has been in County Jail for five months since his arrest and was released for time served.

Askedabout the sentence, Schmidt said she was fine with it.

"My attachments to them are like a dog or a kitty," Schmidt said. "I would call on them and they’d be there. They are my pets."

Porter’s Nov. 7 arrest stems from a Halloween incident last year. At about 1:30 a.m., Porter and his friend, Tim McKevitt, 19, were drinking with a group of friends when they stumbled upon Schmidt’s ranch.

As the group approached to pet Schmidt’s three sleeping ostriches, Gaylord awoke and attacked the group, injuring a woman in the group.

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

While Schmidt’s two other ostriches, Apple and Tomato, went through a period of mourning following the shooting, Schmidt began her investigation.

"Just wanting to know was my motive," she said. "I didn’t even know which way to search — north, south, up, down. My friend and I just started making posters."

Her campaign was short-lived. Almost immediately after posters went up at neighborhood stores, someone was ripping them down. While asking questions about who was tearing them down, she happened upon Porter.

During Schmidt’s questioning, Porter and McKevitt confessed and offered to pay for a new ostrich. Instead, Schmidt reported them to the Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 7.

Porter was on probation at the time of the shooting for a 2005 felony grand theft that occurred in Half Moon Bay, Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. He pleaded guilty to felony animal abuse and possession of a firearm. His attorney, James Thompson, was unavailable for comment.

McKevitt, who posted $25,000 bail, has no criminal record. His jury trial date is set for July 16.

McKevitt’s attorney, AlexReisman had no comment Thursday.

Schmidt, an El Granada resident for 27 years, now is looking for a good home for the adoption of the remaining two ostriches.

"Ostriches don’t do anything," she said. "They don’t bark or growl. So I was shocked that they would just shoot them and then leave their cartridges. They are very likable animals."

bfoley@examiner.com

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