Wendi Cox (L) and Jaci Jackson are also facing arson charges in an unrelated case (Source: McCurtain Co. Sheriff's Office)
William "Billy" Hamilton, 38 (Source: Highlands County, FL Sheriff's Office)
Former Southern Arkansas University student Jaci Rae Jackson, 19, is set to go on trial this month on felony theft and cruelty charges in Oklahoma in connection with the case.
Shaun Smith, SAU Rodeo Team Member and "Credit Card" (Courtesy: Southern Arkansas University)
According to court records, Cox and Hamilton were romantically involved and Cox allegedly orchestrated the theft in a plot to get revenge on the boys of the SAU rodeo team.
MCCURTAIN COUNTY, OK (KSLA) -
Wendi Cox and Billy Hamilton have been charged with felony counts of cruelty to animals and possession of stolen property in connection with the SAU horse theft and cruelty case.
It's the first time anyone has been charged directly in connection with the killing and dismemberment of one of the four horses stolen from SAU's Mulerider Stables in November of 2011.
Two weeks after they were stolen, four of the horses were found abandoned and tied to pine trees in rural McCurtain County Oklahoma, malnourished and dehydrated, but alive. The remains of the fifth were found in early December. "Credit Card" had been shot, his throat was slit and he had been cut into pieces.
Cox is Jaci Jackson's mother. Jackson, a 19-year-old former Southern Arkansas University Magnolia student, is set to go on trial this month on felony theft and cruelty charges in Oklahoma in connection with the case. She remains free on bond. Jackson also faces six felony counts of stolen property in Arkansas.
Until now, Wendi Nicole Cox had only been charged with arson, along with her daughter, in an unrelated case.
Hamilton was already charged with 6 felony counts in Columbia County, Arkansas in connection with the case, after being arrested in Florida last month on an unrelated warrant out of Pike County, where he remains in custody.
Cox turned herself in to McCurtain County authorities Monday morning, where she was arraigned on the arson charges and made an initial appearance on the new cruelty and possession of stolen property charges.
"I am sure some folks didn't think we were moving fast enough on some of the charges, but we just wanted to make sure we had good cases worked," says McCurtain County Sheriff Johnny Tadlock. And I give credit to where credit is due. I've got some good investigators that worked on this case."
According to affidavits filed in McCurtain County District Court, both Cox and Hamilton face those new felony charges based on information as described by the deputy investigating the case:
"On or about Nov 3, 2011, by maliciously and cruelly mutilating one horse that was in captivity and belonged to Derek Shawn Smith, by shooting, cutting the throat and quartering the corpse to scatter and dispose of remains with a cutting instrument. By maliciously and cruelly depriving four horses of food and water that were in captivity and belonging to Ashley Mills, Hope Shelton, Douglas Dickinson and Justin Tyler Lasster, resulting in the four horses being in a state of severe malnutrition and dehydration, contrary to the form of the statutes made and provided and against the peace and dignity of the State of Oklahoma."
According to multiple witnesses quoted in the same court records, Cox and Hamilton were romantically involved and Cox allegedly orchestrated the theft in a plot to get revenge on the boys of the SAU rodeo team, one of whom she claimed had raped her daughter.
Cruelty to animals is punishable by a fine of up to $500 or imprisonment for up to 5 years or both. Both Cox and Hamilton are also charged with knowingly concealing stolen property, which is also felony. That charge covers the horse trailer stolen used to transport the horses.
In addition to those charges, William "Billy" Hamilton, 38, is also now charged with bringing stolen property into the state, and possession of firearms after a former felony conviction.
Cox is scheduled to appear at a pretrial conference on August 2nd and a jury trial on September 17th.
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