MADISON (AP) — The son of Wisconsin football coach Barry Alvarez will spend Christmas in the Dane County Jail but will be out in time for the Badgers' Jan. 1 Rose Bowl appearance after pleading no contest Friday to microwaving a fraternity brother's parrot to death.
Chad Alvarez, 23, pleaded no contest Friday to felony charges of theft of a domestic animal and intentional mistreatment of an animal resulting in death.
Under the conditions of a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, Alvarez will serve five years on probation for the two charges. If he completes probation without further infractions, the felony charges will be reduced to misdemeanors.
"He should not be labeled for all time a felon," assistant district attorney Judy Schwaemle said.
Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust sentenced Alvarez to 10 days in jail, beginning Dec. 20. In addition, he ordered Alvarez to serve 250 hours of community service, donate $1,000 to the Dane County Humane Society and continue to undergo psychological counseling.
Alvarez should serve some time in jail as punishment for killing the parrot in a way that "shock(s) our collective consciousness," Foust said.
"I can't fathom the actions of putting a creature in a microwave, turning it on and leaving it," Foust said. "There are things that people do — no matter who they are — that demand a response."
Alvarez faced a maximum fine of $20,000 and up to seven years in jail if convicted of both felony charges.
The judge said Alvarez should not spend a long time behind bars because he has already suffered outside of the courtroom more than most similar defendants because of his father's position as a high-profile sports figure.
During his court appearance, Alvarez said he was sorry for the pain he caused his family and UW junior Cory Greenfield, the owner of the parrot named Iago.
"The past seven months have been extremely hard. A day hasn't passed that I haven't regretted what I did," Alvarez said. "I am truly sorry for the pain that I've caused everybody."
Greenfield testified that Alvarez had learned his lesson and should not spend time in jail.
"In time, I think I can and will forgive him for what happened," Greenfield, 21, said.
Prosecutors argued that Alvarez should spend 120 days in jail for the gravity of the crime.
"He had time to hold a living creature in his hand, feel its heartbeat and consign it to a miserable and painful death in a microwave oven," Schwaemle said.
Fellow Sigma Chi fraternity members found the dead parrot in the microwave while the device was still operating, police said.
Defense lawyers had moved for dismissal the charges, claiming Alvarez was being treated differently than the way defendants in such cases are typically handled.
In October, Foust ruled that Alvarez did not prove that argument and declined to dismiss the charges.
"I don't care who your father is. From where I sit, who he is doesn't matter," the judge said Friday.
Barry Alvarez attended his son's hearing on Friday but declined comment on the plea and sentencing hearing.
The case attracted national attention from Alvarez's supporters, including U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, and animal rights activists who wrote so many letters to the court that the mail file was thicker than the case file, Foust said.
Tina Kaske, executive director of the Alliance for Animals in Madison, said she was frustrated that Alvarez would only serve ten days in jail.
"Ten days? I almost gasped. I mean, it's a joke," Kaske said. "I think it shows that there's not a very tough punishment for basically cooking an animal alive."