Jail term over theft of university rodeo horses

Credit Card was stolen and later killed.
Credit Card was stolen and later killed.

A woman charged over the high-profile theft of five horses from the Southern Arkansas University rodeo team stables has been sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Wendi Cox, 38, of Howorth, Oklahoma, will serve at least 10 years of the sentence before being eligible for parole.

A jury in El Dorado, Union County, Arkansas, found Cox guilty on Wednesday night after deliberating for just half an hour. In the sentencing phase of the trial, the jury, comprising nine women and three men, proposed a 60-year jail term.

Judge Larry Changler accepted the jury’s recommendation.

Five horses belonging to the university’s top-performing rodeo team were stolen overnight on November 2, 2011.

Four were later recovered across the state border in Oklahoma but the fifth, named Credit Card, was found dead.

Investigators said Credit Card was killed and dismembered.

Tack and a horse trailer were also stolen from the university stables in the raid.

Prosecutors alleged during the rail that Cox helped plan the theft, drawing a diagram showing which horses to take.

Cox was convicted of eight theft counts in all.

Cox was found guilty of four charges of theft of property worth between $US5000 and $US25,000 involving three horses and a horse trailer, two charges of theft of property worth more than $US25,000 which covered two further horses, and two counts of theft of property, namely horse tack, worth $US1000 to $US5000.

Cox’s daughter, Jaci Jackson, 20, a former student at the university and a former rodeo team member, is also charged in connection with the stable raid. She is likely to face trial next month.

Local media reported that some onlookers were in tears as members of the rodeo team spoke of the impact of the case during the sentencing phase.

Rodeo team leader Shaun Smith, who lost Credit Card, told magnoliareporter.com after the trial: “These animals weren’t just pets to us. They were team-mates. They were friends.”

The other horses were owned by Ashley Mills, Ty Lester, Hope Shelton and D.J. Dickinson

Cox is the first person to stand trial over the night raid on the stables, which grabbed headlines across the United States.

The prosecution alleged the offending involved a plan to steal the horses with the intent of reselling them.

The horses were stolen under the cover of darkness and taken across the state border to McCurtain County, Oklahoma.

However, the plan faltered after Jaci Jackson told her mother she recognised Credit Card, and Cox formed the view the horse was too risky to sell.

It was a view that was to the cost the horse his life. He was shot and dismembered for disposal soon after.

By then the trailer used to haul the horses had been found and it became too risky to move the horses.

Jackson is due in court for a pre-trial hearing on April 1, with a possible trial date four days later.



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One thought on “Jail term over theft of university rodeo horses

  • March 30, 2013 at 3:20 am

    Jail? 10 years minimum? I guess we should be glad the Oklahoma Senate hadn’t allowed horse slaughter yet or the others might have wound up butchered and sent to Belgium never to be seen or heard from again.

    In the mean time somebody get a rope!


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