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.
Jackson's mother, Wendi Cox, was sentenced last week to 60 years in prison after a jury convicted her of theft in connection with the case. She was accused of orchestrating the theft and allowing the animals to be hidden on her property in Oklahoma.
Jackson, Hamilton and Berrish face charges there of bringing stolen property into the state, knowingly receiving stolen property and cruelty to animals in the death of one of the horses, Credit Card. They have pleaded not guilty.
At Cox's trial in El Dorado, Hamilton testified that Jackson planned the thefts but did not actually steal the horses. He said Cox wanted to sell the animals and equipment and use the money to purchase another horse for Jackson.
Jackson is accused of collecting information on the best horses to steal from the university. About a week before the crime, Jackson took Hamilton and Cox on a tour of Mulerider Stables at the university to show them which horses to take.