Tiger King’s Joe Exotic gets a year shaved off his sentence


Joe Exotic, whose misadventures and murderous scheme fascinated millions of Netflix addicts during the COVID lockdowns, has added another twisted chapter to the saga of his downfall.

At a court appearance marked by fans in animal masks and makeup, a federal US judge has re-sentenced the flamboyant former zookeeper to 21 years in prison, reducing his punishment by just a year.

The ruling came despite pleas for leniency as Exotic begins treatment for cancer.

“Please don’t make me die in prison waiting for a chance to be free,” he begged the judge who re-sentenced him on a murder-for-hire charge.

Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was convicted in a case involving animal welfare activist Carole Baskin.

Both were featured in Netflix’s hit series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, Exotic still had his trademark mullet hairstyle but the bleach-blonde was fading to grey.

Fear lives on

Baskin and her husband, who now run Exotic’s private zoo, also attended the proceedings and she said she remained fearful that Maldonado-Passage could threaten her.

“He continues to harbour intense feelings of ill will toward me,” she said.

Friday’s court proceedings came about after a federal appeals court ruled last year that the prison term he is serving on a murder-for-hire conviction should be shortened.

Supporters packed the courtroom, some wearing animal-print masks and shirts that read “Free Joe Exotic”.

His lawyers said they would appeal both the re-sentencing and petition for a new trial.

The former zookeeper was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in prison after he was convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill Baskin.

A three-judge panel of the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Maldonado-Passage that the court should have treated them as one conviction at sentencing because they both involved the same goal of killing Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida and had criticised Maldonado-Passage’s treatment of animals.

‘Just cap her’

Prosecutors said Maldonado-Passage offered $US10,000 ($A14,283) to an undercover FBI agent to kill Baskin during a recorded December 2017 meeting.

In the recording, he told the agent, “Just like follow her into a mall parking lot and just cap her and drive off”.

Maldonado-Passage’s lawyers have said their client – who once operated a zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, about 105km south of Oklahoma City – was not being serious.

Maldonado-Passage, who maintains his innocence, also was convicted of killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife records.

-with AAP

We’ve Already Come Too Far To End This Now.

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