Former student Jaci Rae Jackson, charged over the high-profile theft of five horses from the South Arkansas University rodeo team stables, has admitted charges in relation to the offending.
Jackson was originally charged in Arkansas with six charges of theft, but on Thursday morning nodded in Columbia County District Court to counts of conspiracy to commit theft.
Prosecuting attorney David Butler indicated the conspiracy charges were appropriate as Jackson was not present when the theft of the five horses and equipment from the Mulerider stables occurred in November 2011.
Two accomplices, William Webster “Billy” Hamilton and George Berrish III, the pair who physically stole the horses, pleaded guilty to felony theft.
Hamilton was sentenced to 30 years in jail and will not be eligible for parole for five years. Berrish was jailed for 10 years on one admitted count.
The sentencing of Jackson, 20, a former student at the university and a former rodeo team member, will be the last judicial step in the case in Arkansas, which grabbed headlines around the United States.
Her mother, Wendi Cox, defended charges in connection with the incident, but was found guilty late last month. She was sentenced to 60 years in prison following her conviction for eight theft counts. She will not be eligible for parole for at least 10 years.
Cases are still pending in neighboring Oklahoma, as the horses were taken across the border.
Jackson will not be sentenced until July 18. She is to appear in court in McCurtain County, Oklahoma, on June 3 to face charges of bringing stolen property into the state, knowingly receiving stolen property and cruelty to animals.
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, having been killed and dismembered.
Tack and a horse trailer were also stolen in the raid.
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 Jackson told her mother she recognized 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. Credit Card, who belonged to rodeo team captain Shaun Smith, 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.
The plot then quickly unravelled and the four surviving horses were found soon after by authorities, abandoned and tied to pine trees in rural McCurtain County. They were malnourished and dehydrated.
The remains of Credit Card were found early in December of that year.