A parrot was considered an unlikely ‘key witness’ in a murder trial after repeating what was thought to be the victim’s ‘last words’.
Martin Duram was killed in his Michigan home in May 2015, having been shot five times with a .22 caliber handgun.
His wife Glenna was found alongside him – alive but suffering from a single gunshot wound, which prosecutors later said was the sign of a failed suicide attempt.
Their neighbour had grown concerned after not hearing from the couple, who had been together for 11 years, for two days, testifying in court how they normally spoke daily. She eventually entered the home to find both of their bodies on the floor of the bedroom, initially believing they were both dead before authorities arrived and saw Glenna was still breathing.
Sgt. Gary Wilson, who went to check Glenna’s pulse, told the court how as he touched her, her eyes flew open and her body jerked, as she said: “What are you doing?”
Martin Duram. Credit: WOOD TV8/ABC
Two years later, Glenna was found guilty of first-degree murder after eight hours of deliberation by Newaygo County jury in Michigan.
According to The Detroit News, police reports revealed how the couple had been experiencing financial troubles in the lead-up to the shooting, which had been exacerbated by Glenna’s gambling habit.
Investigators had found the murder weapon – a Ruger Single-Six, under the love seat.
Glenna Duram. Credit: Michigan Department of Corrections
But there was something else that also almost became a key piece of evidence: a parrot.
After Martin’s death, his ex-wife Christina Keller took in his pet parrot Bud, and noticed that it started repeating the phrase ‘Don’t [expletive] shoot’ in his voice.
“I think it’s a piece of the puzzle,” Keller told As It Happens.
“I think it’s possible last words.
“I truly believe, with all my heart, most of that comes from that night.”
After it sent chills down her spine, Keller decided to record the parrot’s unusual phrase.
“It terrified me,” she said.
“I hear screaming, yelling and fear.”
Bud the parrot. Credit: WOOD TV8/ABC
The parrot did not end up being used in court proceedings, but was initially considered as an option by prosecution, with Newago County Prosecutor Robert Springstead saying at the time that ‘there’s some evidence to support’ Keller’s theory.
Keller added: “I looked through the police report. About four neighbours said, ‘You need to talk to that bird.
“I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s how intelligent Bud is and how much people believed that he witnessed this.”
In 2019, Glenna’s request for a new trial was denied by the state’s Court of Appeals, having claimed her rights were violated when prosecutors used data extracted from cellphones as evidence in the case.
The following year, the Supreme Court announced she would not be allowed to appeal the decision, handing down a denial that said the court was ‘not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court’.
According to The Cinemaholic, Glenna is currently serving a life sentence in Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Pittsfield Charter Township, Michigan.