HOLLAND, Mich. — Two Holland-area teenagers were sentenced to probation for their part in the killing of "Mr. Gobbles," a well-known turkey in Park Township's Waukazoo Woods neighborhood.
Megan DeMeester and Thomas Sinclair appeared in Holland District Court Tuesday afternoon. The two 18-year-olds, along with Benjamin Slenk, pleaded guilty to the unlawful taking of a turkey.
"There has not been a day that's gone by where I haven't regretted these actions," DeMeester said in court. "I just want a chance to be given a second chance to show that's not who I am or who I want to be."
DeMeester and Sinclair received a year of probation and 125 hours of community service. Judge Susan Jonas requested that the hours be dedicated to animal and wildlife conservation efforts, if possible.
"[One of the lessons] is that this can be an action that's totally out of the character that the people thought that you were," Jonas said. "You can end up having your character judged by this regretful act, which was a cruel act. There's no other way to look at it."
The pair, sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, can have the charges cleared from their records if they successfully complete their terms of probation.
Several people from the Waukazoo Woods neighborhood attended the sentencing wearing shirts with the turkey's image. The group felt the punishment was too light.
"Waukazoo is all about animals," said Lynn Truhn, who lives near where the body was found. "We take care of our animals, and we don't kill them. It was pretty gross what they did."
Slenk is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 22. All three are expected to pay portions of fines and court costs exceeding $2,000.
"I'm sorry that I have caused great pain to those I love, and I take full responsibility for my part in killing the turkey," Sinclair said. "Moving forward, I believe I will make better choices and learn from my mistakes."
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