For US TV pitchman will go to trial in an owl harassment case

Salt lake city: A plea deal for a former TV pitchman in Utah accused of kicking a barn owl in flight while riding a motorised paraglider fell through on Thursday when he refused to admit to a crime. He said it makes him look like an evil, horrible person.

Pic for representation only

Dell ‘Super Dell’ Schanze — known in Utah for his shrill, hyperactive TV commercials  for his Totally Awesome Computers retail chain that has since closed — once again turned a court hearing into a spectacle. It started when he arrived about five minutes late and entered court wearing dark sunglasses, a tight-fitting black turtleneck, tennis shoes and a fanny pack.

When US District Judge Dee Benson asked him whether it was true that he knowingly harassed the owl in February or March of 2011. Schanze said, “No sir.”

The judge explained to Schanze that he couldn’t accept a plea deal without an admission to the facts. Schanze’s attorney, Kent Hart, spoke with him several times and the judge at one point brought both attorneys to the bench. But Schanze never budged. “I’m not an evil, horrible guy. I’m not going to lie.”

Benson ordered the case to trial, set to begin on April 20. Schanze has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanour charge of knowingly using an aircraft to harass wildlife and pursuing a migratory bird. He faces a maximum of one year in jail and a $100,000 fine, the judge said.

The charges came after a federal investigation into an online video that surfaced last year.

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