Can a parrot be a key witness in a murder trial?
(WJBK) - Can a parrot be a key witness in a murder trial?
"I know he's seen something pretty horrible; I know it's stuck there a little bit," says Martin's ex-wife, Christina Keller. "The way his cage was positioned he had the front row view."
Martin Duram, 45, was shot five times in his home in the western Michigan town of Ensley Township in May 2015. He owned a Agrican grey parrot, Bud. Christina now takes care of Bud, and believes the parrot knows what happened. She recorded video of the parrot saying "Don't (expletive) shoot" weeks after his death.
"And then I was like, that is Marty's voice!" she says. "And then I had to listen to the video again and I'm like, 'Oh my god, what is he saying?'"
You can watch and listen to Christina's recording in the video report in this story in the video player above. Audio in the report also shows the parrot laughing.
"Sadly, that's Marty's laugh," Keller says.
The African parrot is 21 years old and could possibly be a key witness in the ongoing murder trial.
"It's something that we're going to be looking at, determining if it's reliable to use, but ultimately what we're going to look at is, is this a piece of information we really need to prosecute the case?" says Robert Springstead, Newago Co. Prosecutor.
Is the parrot simply mimicking his former owner, Marty? Or are those Marty's last words before he was shot five times, including once in the head.
In the debate of whether or not a parrot makes a sufficient witness in a murder trial, Professor Nelson Miller of Cooley Law says it's borderline crazy.
"For the prosecutors to choose to introduce evidence of what a parrot says for some kind of - maybe weak, maybe possible - but weak inference of what the victim said just before his death would be really stretching, and I think probably unwise," he says. "You wouldn't want to be the parrot prosecutor."
No charges have been filed in the case and Martin Duram's death remains under investigation. Springstead said Duram's appeared not to be self-inflicted.
"As soon as I receive the investigation, I will make a charging decision," he said. "I expect that to happen in the next few weeks."