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It's not every day you hear that a cockfighting rooster kills a man. But for a California gambler, that's exactly what happened.
In a cockfight, roosters are armed with sharp blades to help them fight, but the blades often result in their death. This time one of those blades resulted in the death of Jose Luis Ochoa, the rooster's handler and a frequent participant in Bakersfield's illegal cockfighting rings. The man, killed by a rooster stabbing him in the calf, bled out within hours, reports NPR.
Punishable with fines and jail time, cockfighting is illegal in the District of Columbia and all 50 states, many of which consider it to be a felony. It is also a crime to be a spectator at cockfights in 40 of those states. To combat interstate cockfighting rings, federal law also provides a three year sentence for anyone who transfers cockfighting instruments across state lines.
Ochoa had been previously fined for "owning or training an animal for fighting," according to NPR. Before he was killed, a second fine was the least of his worries. For better or for worse, cockfighting rakes in the big bucks, with pots in small fights reaching up to $10,000, according to Bakersfield.com. A $350 fine is just a drop in the bucket for many of the participants. But if Ochoa weren't killed, he could have been facing jail time; in California, a second offense is a felony.
Animal rights activists have been pushing for harsher penalties, notes Bakersfield.com, arguing that fines and short jail sentences are not enough of a deterrent. They clearly weren't in the case of Jose Luis Ochoa.
Though he never made it behind bars, Ochoa suffered an even worse fate. An ironic end in that a cockfighting rooster kills a man so entrenched in the "sport."