True Crime Thursday – Could a Parrot Testify?


Debbie Burke


Hannah Dickens-Unsplash


In 1958, Erle Stanley Gardner wrote a story where a chatty parrot’s “testimony” helped solve a murder. It became an episode of the Perry Mason TV show entitled “The Case of the Perjured Parrot,” teleplay by Marian B. Cockrell.


A real-life crime in 2015 gave a starring role to another talking parrot.

An African Grey parrot named Bud might have witnessed the murder of his owner and repeated what were perhaps the last words of the dying victim.

In May, 2015, Glenna Duram shot her husband Martin five times, killing him in their Sand Lake, Michigan home. She then turned the gun on herself, causing a non-fatal head wound. She recovered and was charged with Martin’s murder.

Pet parrot Bud was apparently present during the crime. Afterwards, family members say Bud mimicked Martin’s voice and said, “Don’t f**king shoot!”

According to Martin’s mother, “That bird picks up everything and anything, and it’s got the filthiest mouth around.”

During Glenna’s trial, the prosecutor attempted to include Bud’s words in court but that request was denied. Even without the parrot’s testimony, there was enough evidence to find Glenna guilty of murder. She was sentenced to life in prison in August, 2017.

Here’s a video of Bud.

TKZers, what do you think? Is Bud a convincing witness?

This entry was posted in #truecrimethursday, Erle Stanley Gardner, Perry Mason by Debbie Burke. Bookmark the permalink.

About Debbie Burke

Debbie writes the Tawny Lindholm series, Montana thrillers infused with psychological suspense. Her books have won the Kindle Scout contest, the Zebulon Award, and were finalists for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and Her articles received journalism awards in international publications. She is a founding member of Authors of the Flathead and helps to plan the annual Flathead River Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana. Her greatest joy is mentoring young writers.

10 thoughts on “True Crime Thursday – Could a Parrot Testify?

  1. I’m totally convinced. But I can understand why the bird’s behavior wasn’t admissible. What a tragic case.

    Perry Mason was my crime tv gateway drug!

  2. I always wished some animal behaviorists could have watched OJ and Nichole Simpson’s dog who was at the murder scene when the poor animal came in contact with OJ after that. That would have been so dang telling if not admissable.

    Right now, there’s a number of cozy mystery series involving pet psychics and murdered people’s pets. Some are amusing if sad.

  3. Perhaps some here are familiar with the horrid phenomenon of people disappearing in our national parks and forests, and other places. To me, it is a frightening thing, and I have asked my children and grandchildren not to take their children into certain geographical areas in our state.

    While many of the missing are are found both alive and post mortem, many are not. David Paulides, a retired business executive and retired police officer, has written five volumes about a number of disappearance cases. (He does not sell on Amazon. His books are available on his website about missing people in both the U.S. and Canada. Think canam.) Mr. Paulides has also done extensive research into bigfoot. He consistently contends, though often pressured by many, that he is a researcher, and as such, he is not prepared to say that bigfoots are responsible for these disappearances. Neither does he advance any other theories as to why these folks are simply gone. He does document some stories that take me right to the edge and makes me wonder . . .

    One of the sad things is that, while sometimes the missing have taken their dogs with them and are also found post mortem, some dogs have survived whatever ordeal their owner/friends have gone through.

    What terrifying or sad, tragic tales could these canines tell if they could talk?

    • Jim, years ago, burglars broke into our house when we were gone and beat our dog with a pole saw. We pieced it together b/c police said a gang was operating in the neighborhood, posing as landscapers with gardening equipment including long pole saws. After that, whenever our dog saw someone holding a broom or mop with a long handle, he freaked out. He was never the same.

  4. Wow, Debbie. That video was chilling. Imagine if Bud was allowed to testify? “Please put your right talon on the bible and repeat after me.” 😀

    What a fascinating case!

  5. Since Erle Stanley Gardner was a setting judge when he wrote the story, I presume he knew what the law was regarding the parrot’s testimony, as well as the burro, in another of his stories.

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