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Former student pleads guilty in horse theft

Published: April 5, 2013

MAGNOLIA, Ark. (AP) — A former Southern Arkansas University student has pleaded guilty in the theft of five horses and equipment from the university's stables, as have two people accused of helping her.

A Columbia County circuit judge Thursday accepted Jaci Jackson's guilty pleas to six counts of conspiracy to commit theft. Prosecutors allege Jackson hatched a plan in 2011 to steal the horses from the university, where she was on the rodeo team.

One of the horses was killed and dismembered. The other four were recovered from an area police say Jackson described to an informant.

Jackson won't be sentenced until she testifies in related cases in Oklahoma, where the horses were discovered, The Banner-News reported. Deputy Prosecutor David Butler said Jackson's Arkansas sentence could be as much as 30 years in prison.

The two men accused of stealing the horses, Billy Hamilton and George Berrish III, also pleaded guilty to theft counts Thursday.

Circuit Judge Larry Chandler sentenced Hamilton to 30 years in prison, where he will have to serve at least five years before becoming eligible for parole. Chandler sentenced Berrish to 10 years in prison.

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