SARANAC, Mich. (WOOD) — Bud perches atop a cage next to Ozzie — a pair of African grey parrots that mimic voices and doorbells.
“This is Bud,” his new owner, Christina Keller, said. “He’ll be 20 here in September.”
She said that since two weeks after his previous owner, Martin Durum, was shot and killed in his home on 128th Street in Ensley Township in May 2015, Bud has repeated these words over and over:
“Don’t f—ing shoot.”
The new owner believes they are Duram’s final words.
“Sadly, I do, and that’s what makes it hard to listen to,” Keller said.
Keller is Duram’s ex-wife. She said they owned the parrot together before they got divorced. He kept the bird.
She said Bud still talks in Duram’s voice.
At least a few times a week, she said, it seems to replay the murder — mimicking what sounds like two voices, a male and a female, in an argument.
“I’m hearing two people in an intense argument,” she said. “Two people that I know, voices that I recognize.”
She said it happened again Thursday night, while she was watching a story on CBS North Carolina’s sister station 24 Hour News 8 about the homicide.
“It’s intense,” she said. “When it happens, my house turns cold.”
Duram, 45, was shot five times in his own home in May 2015. His second wife, Glenna, survived a bullet wound to the head.
Now, Glenna Duram is identified in police reports as a suspect in a murder-attempted suicide, though she has not been charged.
“He was there to see it all happen and heard it,” Keller said of Bud. “It imprinted in his brain. He can’t let it go and that’s awful.”
Bud won’t perform in front of an audience. While a crew from 24 Hour News 8 didn’t catch much on camera during Friday’s visit, he did utter an expletive off-camera.
She said it’s possible he had heard the “Don’t shoot” on TV, but said it’s doubtful.
“He’s using Marty’s voice,” she said.
Newaygo County Prosecutor Robert Springstead said he plans to decide in two or three weeks on whether to file charges in the death, but he said he has no plans to rely on the parrot as evidence.
That’s no surprise to a local legal expert, Muskegon attorney Michael Walsh.
Walsh said there’s no way to prove what the bird is mimicking.
“How did it get there?” he said. “If there’s no reliable way of making that determination, you can’t rule out that the bird witnessed a homicide or that the bird witnessed something on TV.”
In a similar murder case in 1993 in California, a judge refused to allow evidence from an African Grey parrot.
The new owner doesn’t expect her bird will take the witness stand.
“I don’t think he would be able to help the case,” Keller said. “But I think it puts the emotion out there, like there’s a dead man there.”