UNION COUNTY, AR (KSLA) - Hours after an Arkansas judge Wendi Cox to 60 years for her part in a theft of horses from Southern Arkansas University, Cox took a moment to share her side of the story with KSLA News 12.
Cox is one of four defendants in the 2011 theft of five horses and equipment from the SAU rodeo team ended Wednesday night in an Eldorado courtroom.
Cox came to court this week a free woman hoping to clear her name in connection with the thefts. But when court ended, Cox was no longer free. A Union County jury sentenced Cox to 60 years in prison.
"We are very pleased that the jury found Wendi Cox guilty on all counts," prosecuting attorney David Butler says.
But Cox says: "I am innocent. There ain't nothing else to say. It will be all right."
It took a matter of minutes for the guilty verdict to come back but hours for the 60-year sentence. Members and former members of the SAU rodeo team patiently waited for the decision, including Shawn Smith, whose horse, Credit Card, was stolen that November night and later killed.
"It was a hard thing that me and my teammates had to go through, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. And I think we handle ourselves with class through this whole deal."
Police say that, early in their investigation, they were told the thefts were retaliation by Jaci Jackson, Cox's daughter, because of being raped by rodeo team members. But, in court, Jackson said this was a false story created by her mother.
"I am glad she got up there and said this was a bold face lie, and it was all Wendi making this up," says D.J. Dickenson, rodeo member who faced accusations of being in on the theft early in the investigation.
The other three defendants in the case are Jackson, George Berrish III, and Billy Hamilton. Prosecutors say Hamilton was Cox's former boyfriend as well Credit Card's killer.
"We will be able to handle these cases through plea agreements. I anticipate that is going to happen," Butler says.