The jury deliberated for about 30 minutes before finding Wendie Cox guilty of 8 counts in the Southern Arkansas University horse theft case. Five horses, equipment, and a horse trailer were stolen from the SAU rodeo team. Four of the horses were found tied and starving, the fifth was found slaughtered near Cox’s Oklahoma home.
Cox smiled as she was handcuffed and led away by a deputy. It is unclear why she was smiling. She was sentenced to 60 years behind bars moments prior. She faced up to 92 years in jail.
Jaci Rae Jackson was a member of the SAU rodeo team when the theft occurred in November 2011. She is also Cox’s daughter. She took the stand Wednesday and testified against her mother. Jackson admitted on the stand that she lied when she accused a couple of rodeo team members of trying to sexually assault her. She said her mother came up with the story.
Cox helped plan the theft according to prosecutors – outlining which horses to steal.
The human relationships in this case present many unanswered questions, but for many, the biggest question still surrounds the death of the horse Credit Card.
Testimony revealed the horses were stolen to re-sell. William “Billy” Hamilton, the one-time love interest of Cox, and co-defendant took the stand. He said Cox wanted to buy Jackson a more competitive barrel racing horse.
Once stolen they found two of the horses had one brand each. The other pair had no identifying marks. Credit Card presented a unique challenge, however – three brands, a big head, and the possibility of a micro-chip. Their plan to “change the brands” became more difficult with him.
Hamilton admitted to shooting Credit Card behind his ear, slitting his throat, and cutting him into three pieces so the horse could be moved.
The victims in the case also testified. Sobs were heard throughout the court room as Shaun Smith spoke about Credit Card.
Ty Lester’s mare was also stolen, but he was one of the lucky ones. The senior at SAU still competes in team roping with his mare named Grey that was left to starve by Cox and the other alleged thieves.
Lester says, “She stress foundered. It took close to a year to get her back to a hundred percent. She is still skittish at times.”
He said three of the four horses stolen are still on the rodeo team competing. The fourth horse Badger moved on with his owner Ashley Mills who graduated last year.
Cox will serve 10 years in this case before she is eligible for parole according to authorities.