Cowboys & Criminals

January 13th, 2009 1:19 pm by Kelly Garbato

Update, 5/11/09:

As reported by SHARK, on April 16, Zeb Lanham pled guilty to felony domestic battery and

was sentenced to a 10-year unified prison term with the first five years fixed and the second five indeterminate. However, included in the plea agreement was the stipulation the judge retain jurisdiction of the case, allowing Lanham to complete a rehabilitation and education program. So Lanham was remanded to North Idaho Correctional Institution situated at Cottonwood for 180 days, in which he will complete the rider program, and attend the treatment classes set for him.

“What they actually do is, in part, determined by the charges they were convicted on,” Lee said of the rider treatment program.

After those 180 days, Lanham will return to the court and, based on the recommendation from the Idaho Department of Corrections on how Lanham did in his program, the judge will likely either order Lanham to serve the remainder of his sentence or waive prison time in favor of probation on the condition he cannot break any of the terms set.

So he could serve as little as 180 days for beating his partner, who was pregnant (and thus especially vulnerable) at the time. Just goes to show how little the patriarchy values women and non-human animals (remember, he also earns a living by abusing sentient creatures).

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In their current newsletter, SHARK highlights the arrest of “Bull Rider” Zeb Lanham – for felony domestic violence. Lanham was charged with beating his 22-year-old pregnant girlfriend, and subsequently pled guilty.

Man charged in violent beating episode of girlfriend
By Jessica Keller
Argus Observer
Friday, November 14, 2008 10:51 AM PST

FRUITLAND — A Sweet, Idaho, man and professional bull rider was arrested and charged with felony domestic violence following an incident that occurred Nov. 3 in Fruitland.

Zeb Lanham, 24, was arrested Nov 3 following an incident at the residence of Kimberly Butler, 22, his girlfriend and the woman with whom shares a child.

“A warrant was issued for his arrest, and he turned himself in on Nov. 4,” Payette County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Lee said Wednesday. “He is still in custody last I know. The court set a $200,000 bond in this case.”

Lee said police are still gathering evidence, so what he can say about the case is limited. According to the police report, however, law enforcement officials were called following an argument between Lanham and Butler. Lanham was reported to have caused “great bodily harm with traumatic injury on Butler’s face,” according to the police report. A Fruitland police officer interviewed Butler, who is also pregnant, at Holy Rosary Medical Center, where she was being treated. She was later transported by LifeFlight Air Ambulance to a Boise-area hospital for treatment of her injuries. Those injuries include a broken cheekbone and swelling that was apparently putting pressure on her brain, according to the police report. According to the police report, Butler entered a neighbor’s house to call 911 after she sustained her injuries. Lanham is scheduled to appear Monday in Payette County Court for his preliminary hearing.

Bullrider pleads guilty at arraignment session
By: JESSICA KELLER
ARGUS OBSERVER
Sunday, December 21, 2008 1:58 AM PST

PAYETTE—A professional bullrider charged with felony domestic violence pleaded guilty following a plea agreement during his arraignment Friday in Payette County District Court. [...]

One of the terms of the agreement is that Lanham be sentenced to a 10-year unified prison term with the first five years fixed. The plea agreement also stipulates Lanham pay restitution, although the terms of that have not been decided upon yet. The prison sentence, however, comes with the stipulation at the Feb. 19 sentencing date, the prosecutors will recommend the judge retain jurisdiction of the case, allowing Lanham to complete a rehabilitation and education program, which usually lasts between four to six months, Lee said. Following the completion of the program, depending on the results, the Idaho Department of Corrections could recommend to the judge Lanham serve probation or serve the original sentence, or the judge can go ahead and impose the original sentence anyway.

“Based on the totality of the circumstances of the case, we determined that was an appropriate plea agreement in this matter,” Lee said.

In Idaho, if a person has not been convicted of a prior felony offense, it is unlikely he or she would go to prison for the initial conviction, regardless. Under the current plea agreement, Lanham will have to demonstrate prison is not the best option before a final decision is made.

Lee said, based on his records, Lanham does not have a prior felony conviction. According to Idaho Department of Corrections records, however, Lanham is facing misdemeanor battery charges in Gem County in a case that has been scheduled for jury trial. Lee said, while that case remains unresolved, it is impossible to say whether it will have any impact in Lanham’s sentencing or affect possible probation opportunities if his treatment program is completed successfully.

Of this most recent case, SHARK notes, “Another example of what research has proven, violence to animals is a precursor of violence to humans.”

Indeed, on their website, SHARK documents a number of cases of violent crime among rodeo participants; the target of the violence is often non-human animals, but other victimized groups include women, children and people of color:

Children Paid to Strip at Rural Fair: Four indigenous boys took their clothes off for money in front of a large crowd at a rodeo, who laughed and made fun of their genitals. The mayor of the farming town in the Mexican state of Puebla where the incident occurred was in the audience.

Brazile Arrested for Sexual Assault of Child: Decatur resident Jimmy David Brazile, 60, was released on $100,000 bond Thursday afternoon after being arrested earlier that day on charges of various sexual and indecent acts with a child. According to police, Brazile, who was a roping teacher in Wise County, was having a sexual relationship with one of his students, a 16-year-old female, since the end of 2006.

NHSFR Sponsor, Rodeo School Operator Convicted of Sex with Children: A longtime major sponsor of the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) has been found guilty on two counts of sexual assault on a child. Larry Lancaster, of Lancaster’s Rock-n-Roll Rodeo Gear and Larry Lancaster’s Rodeo School, was convicted on May 25, 2007 of six counts including sexual assault on a child, bribery of a witness or victim, unlawful sexual contact, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Former rodeo star indicted in road rage incident: Former PRCA world champion steer wrestler Sid Steiner has been indicted by a Travis County grand jury on a felony charge of aggravated assault in connection with a road rage incident last year.

Professional Bull Rider tried for Attempted Murder of Wife: A jury last year agreed that former professional bull rider Billy Ray Byrd walked into his wife’s workplace wearing a cowboy hat and spurs and shot her in the head with a .22-caliber rifle, leaving bullet fragments in her brain.

Cowboy fined for allowing 31 horses to starve to death: Shane Nash, formerly of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, which is associated with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, was fined $5,000 July 27, 2000, for allowing 31 horses under his care to starve to death. The fine against Nash is the largest of its type ever handed down under the Alberta Animal Protection Act.

Drunk steer wrestler kills 8 in vehicular homicide: Clinton Haskins, 21, of Maybell, Colo., a UW student, changed his plea to guilty Thursday to eight counts of aggravated vehicular homicide for the head on crash Sept. 16 that killed the athletes, all members of the UW men’s cross country team.

PRCA Director Convicted, Fined, Jailed for Violating Federal Safe Drinking Water Act: A 69-year-old Weld County rancher and rodeo producer was sent to federal prison Friday for tampering with monitoring equipment to hide leaks in the underground storage of chemical-laced wastewater left over from oil well drilling. Michael Eugene Cervi, 69, of Roggen, told the judge it was all a mistake.

Rodeo bulldogger charged in gruesome trailer deaths: Police stopped a truck on U.S. 41 after motorists reported an animal’s leg was hanging from the rear of a trailer and being dragged along the highway. State Police found 22 animals in the trailer on Thursday, including three dead steers, two steers near death and a horse that had to be put to sleep by a veterinarian. The truck driver, Jarod W. Steffen, 21, of Richmond, Ill., was arrested in preliminary charges of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail.

Rodeo Company Owner Pleads Guilty, is Fined for Shocking Animals: A high school principal who operates the rodeo production company that supplied animals for the Henry County Fair’s rodeo on Friday was fined $300 and given 180 days’ supervision for allegedly shocking bulls at an event he oversaw last fall in Morris. Mike Latting, president of Latting Rodeo Productions and principal of Donovan High School in Donovan, pleaded guilty to charges of animal cruelty on June 15 after a videotape from an animal rights group was sent to Grundy County State’s Attorney Sheldon Sobol.

Rodeo “King” Cited, Fined for Harassing Wildlife: World rodeo champion Ty Murray has been cited for chasing an elk with a snowmobile and then jumping onto the animal at a Colorado ranch last January.

Four Charged for Abusing Doomed Rodeo Bull: Four people from northern Tasmania have been charged over the treatment of a bull at a rodeo at Carrick in January this year. It is alleged the bull, which had spinal damage, was kicked in the face and forced to drag itself on to a truck.

Bull Rider Convicted of 2 Brutal Murders: Bobby Ray Hopkins, 36, a former bull rider, was convicted and sentenced to die for the brutal murders of 18-year-old Sandi Marbut and her 19-year-old cousin Jennifer Weston.

Former school rodeo adviser charged with multiple rapes: Lyle “Swede” Johnson, 60, is charged with three counts of second-degree rape and three counts of sexual contact with a child under the age of 16. Johnson, a former adviser to the Rapid City Central High School rodeo team, was arrested in March after an investigation that began in September of 2002. Prosecutors said the charges relate to incidents occurring from the late 1970s through 2002, allegedly involving victims between the ages of 13 and 16.

Rodeo Champ Charged with Abuse: Rodeo champion Kelly Timberman appeared in court Friday afternoon on a charge of felony child abuse. Investigators believe that Timberman, who is one of the nation’s top-ranked bareback riders, used a belt in late January to discipline his elementary-school age son, according to Lt. Phil Crouch of the Mills Police Department.

Rodeo Rider Guilty of Brutal Racial Killing; Third Defendant Is Convicted In Dragging Death in Texas: A Texas jury found a man guilty of capital murder today but spared him from execution for helping drag a black man to death in one of the grisliest racial killings in recent American history. The defendant, Shawn Allen Berry, the last of three white men to be tried in the case, was sentenced to life in prison. The two other men have been sentenced to death. Prosecutors said Mr. Berry was one of three men who killed James Byrd, 49, on June 7, 1998, by chaining him to Mr. Berry’s pickup truck and dragging him near Jasper. The other men were John William King and Lawrence Russell Brewer.

Violence begets violence. And – make no mistake – rodeos are bloody, gruesome, violent spectacles.

See, for example, this video of “steer busting” – “Watch Grandpas Abuse Animals” – from SHARK:

You can view dozens of such videos on SHARK’s You Tube channel.

While deconstructing a recent piece on “bull riding” in The New York Times (“Bull Riders Wait All Day for a Few Seconds of Fury”), Mary Martin observes

* “While it’s happening, it’s the best feeling in the world, to conquer somethin.” – This says it all, really. The rest of the post isn’t really necessary. These men want “to conquer somethin.” End of story. And of course the bull is a thing. One rider even compares bulls to rollercoasters.

* There are rodeo groupies, called “buckle bunnies.” I think you know what’s coming . . .

* At a bar after an “event,” where the men drink Jagermeister and Red Bull, the buckle bunnies, well . . . “Within an hour, several riders were paired with 20-something women they just met. One rider was on an ottoman, pushed onto his back by a comely blonde. She rode like a bull rider and lifted her shirt, eliminating the need for an imagination.”

* Snyder goes to his hotel room, apparently after not being interested in the behavior of the women, and watches “Righteous Kill” with DeNiro and Pacino.

Furthermore, the rider pictured on The New York Times’ website sports a shirt which carries the logos of both Wrangler and the U.S. Border Patrol.

In the hyper-masculine culture of the rodeo, animal abuse does not exist in a vacuum; rather, it’s inextricably linked to the objectification and exploitation of women, children and people of color.

You can see it in the bull rider who batters his pregnant girlfriend, the mother of his child;

in the bareback rider, who physically disciplines – in order to dominate and break – his own son;

in the roping instructor, who uses his position of authority to sexually exploit his female students;

and in the eyes of a rodeo crowd which, already desensitized to the suffering of “lesser” animals, forces indigent children to strip naked for the mob’s amusement.

Can we expect anything more, given what passes for entertainment in the rodeo?

Can we expect anything more, in a society which slaughters 10 billion sentient animals – annually – for no reason other than humans wants and whims?

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5 Responses to “Cowboys & Criminals”

  1. easyVegan.info » Blog Archive » “Rodeo Cowboy Criminals”: A SHARK Documentary Series Says:

    [...] A few weeks ago, I wrote about Zeb Lanham, a “bull rider” who pled guilty to felony domestic violence for beating his pregnant girlfriend last November. Among other injuries, he left her with a broken cheekbone, which was placing pressure on her brain. I also highlighted 16 additional cases of interpersonal violence and/or animal abuse (above and beyond the cruelty-as-entertainment regularly found in rodeos), committed by those involved in the rodeo and associated businesses, which I pulled from SHARK’s website. Criminal acts perpetrated by “cowboys” are so common that SHARK has even devoted a section of their website to detailing these cases: CowboyCriminals.com [...]

  2. Wildman1968 Says:

    You guys are so biased toward rodeo cowboys thinking that we are cruel to animals which leads to crimes. Well look at businessman and police officers who commit felonies everyday. You go a few articles about people who are associated with that committed a crime. Look up school teachers and you will have page after page of violent crimes. Don’t bash us because a few made mistakes. And for Ty Murray getting a ticket for jumping on a Elk well that is crazy but funny. Who in their right mind would have the courage to pull that off. Not many so I rest my case.

  3. Kelly G. Says:

    Defending “cowboys” from allegations of violence by laughing about a violent act committed by a “cowboy”? Yeah, you really showed me, “wildman.”

  4. Kelly G. Says:

    Besides, your whole industry is centered around violence – we’re not talking about “a few mistakes,” but a lifetime’s worth.

  5. “…the true nature of a pigeon shooter.” » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    [...] to SHARK’s Cowboys & Criminals series, Richard Shackleton’s actions illustrate the intersectionality of oppressions: [...]

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