OKLAHOMA CITY, (AP) — “Tiger King” Joe Exotic was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment on Friday by a federal judge. This reduction is despite the pleas of Exotic, a former zookeeper, for leniency. Exotic began treatment for cancer.
He said, “Please don’t make me die waiting for a chance at being free,” to a federal judge. The judge resentenced him for murder-for-hire.
Joe Exotic, whose real name was Joseph Maldonado Passage, was convicted in the case involving Carole Baskin, an animal welfare activist. Both of them were featured on Netflix’s “Tiger King”: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.
Maldonado Passage wore an orange prison jumpsuit. His trademark mullet hairstyle was still intact, but the bleach blonde was starting to fade.
Baskin, her husband and daughter were also present at the proceedings. Baskin stated that she was afraid Maldonado Passage might threaten her.
She said, “He continues harboring intense feelings of ill-will toward me.”
Friday’s court proceedings were initiated after a federal appeals court last year ruled that the sentence he is currently serving for a murder-for hire conviction should be reduced.
There were many supporters in the courtroom wearing animal-print masks or shirts reading “Free Joe Exotic.” His lawyers stated that they would appeal the resentencing as well as the petition for a new trial.
After being convicted of trying two separate men to murder Baskin, the former zookeeper was sentenced to 22 years imprisonment in January 2020. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had a three-judge panel. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Maldonado Passage was wrong to treat them both as one conviction at sentencing. Baskin runs a rescue sanctuary in Florida for big cats and had criticized Maldonado Passage’s treatment of animals.
Prosecutors claimed that Maldonado Passage offered $10,000 to an FBI undercover agent to murder Baskin in a December 2017 recording. The recording shows him telling the agent that he offered $10,000 to an undercover FBI agent to kill Baskin.
Maldonado Passage, who insists on his innocence, was also convicted of killing five Tigers, selling tigers cubs, and falsifying records about wildlife.