Judge: Community service a must

Updated: January 27, 2004, 6:29 PM ET
Associated Press

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A minor league pitcher who killed a popular osprey with a baseball last year cannot pay his way out of performing community service, a judge ruled Tuesday.

An attorney for Jae Kuk Ryu had requested that his client pay the standard state rate of $10 an hour rather than do the 100 hours of work he agreed to in a plea deal in August.

Daytona Beach attorney David Hood also had asked the court for a two-month extension to allow the former Daytona Cubs player more time to return from his South Korea home and complete the community service.

But Volusia County Judge Freddie J. Worthen agreed with the state attorney's office that Ryu must follow the original plea agreement, which prosecutors said gives him until the end of February to complete the work.

If Ryu is unable to complete his community service by then and state prosecutors decide to pursue additional charges, they will have to prove that Ryu "willfully" avoided his court-ordered service, Worthen said.

Ryu, 20, knocked the bird from its perch at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona Beach before a game in the Class A Florida State League on April 21. The bird, nicknamed "Ozzy" by fans, was blinded in its right eye and died six days later.

Following public outcry over the incident, the Cubs demoted Ryu to the Lansing Lugnuts of the lower-level Midwest League. He later was promoted to the Double-A West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press