By Barbara Leader
Cattle rustler Robert McKinney could spend the next 45 years in prison at hard labor after pleading guilty Monday in 4th Judicial District Court.
McKinney pleaded guilty to four counts of livestock theft and one count of possession of stolen property after he stole more than 40 cattle and tried to haul them away in a stolen trailer.
Cattle rustling was not McKinney's first brush with the law.
He served time in the Morehouse Parish jail for theft and as part of the work release program had worked on the farm where he eventually stole the cattle.
McKinney was stealing cows in Morehouse Parish for the second time when he was caught.
He reportedly told friends and family in Albany he was a part owner in a cattle farming business and enlisted their help to pull three trailers to Morehouse Parish to steal more than 30 Black Angus cows and calves.
Just weeks before, McKinney had successfully stolen 12 cows and sold them at auction.
But this time 4th Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones said McKinney overloaded the trailer, causing a tire to blow out near the scene of the crime, attracting the attention of a neighbor and eventually the Morehouse Parish Sheriff's Office.
Jones said two calves died after being separated from their mothers, but those on the second load were able to be reunited.
"When the mother cows were taken back to the field, they were lowing and so were their babies — trying to get back to their moms," Jones said. "It was a sad scene. When calves are taken from their mothers they miss them like people do."
Jones said the cattle were valued at between $1,500 and $1,800 each. McKinney sold the first 12 cows at auction for a total of $9,000, but the Louisiana Brand Commission was able to recover 10 of the 12. The remaining two had been slaughtered.
"This young man has unfortunately led a life of crime," Jones said. "It will be a long time before he steals anything else. This is the successful conclusion to a very thorough investigation by Morehouse Parish Sheriff's Office."
Jones said McKinney will likely spend his 45 years in Angola.