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Joe Exotic Is Resentenced to 21 Years for ‘Tiger King’ Murder-for-Hire Plot


Joe Exotic, the former Oklahoma zoo owner who was the central figure in the 2020 Netflix documentary series “Tiger King,” was resentenced to 21 years in prison on Friday for the failed murder-for-hire plot targeting Carole Baskin, a self-proclaimed animal-rights activist who had criticized his zoo’s treatment of animals, his lawyers said.

The new sentence reduces his punishment by one year. The original sentence, for 22 years in prison, was vacated as improper by a federal appeals court last summer.

John M. Phillips, a lawyer for Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, said in a statement, “We are unsatisfied with the court’s decision and will appeal.” At a news conference, he said that Mr. Maldonado-Passage was disappointed.

In court documents on Friday, Mr. Maldonado-Passage, said, “Please don’t make me deal with cancer in prison waiting on an appeal.”

In November, Mr. Maldonado-Passage said he received a diagnosis of an “aggressive” form of prostate cancer.

Mr. Maldonado-Passage, 58, was initially sentenced to prison in 2020 after twice attempting to hire people — including an undercover F.B.I. agent — to kill Ms. Baskin; their rivalry was one of the main plot lines of “Tiger King.” He was also found guilty of falsifying wildlife records and violating the Endangered Species Act for his role in trafficking and killing tigers.

Last summer, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled in favor of Mr. Maldonado-Passage’s appeal that his sentence was too long. Lawyers for the reality-TV star had argued that a Federal District Court in Oklahoma had not grouped his two murder-for-hire convictions when his sentence was calculated. If the two counts had been grouped instead of considered for separate sentences, his prison term could have been as short as 17 and a half years, the court said.

After the ruling, in a recording that his lawyers provided to The New York Times, Mr. Maldonado-Passage said his original sentence was “absolute crap.”

Mr. Maldonado-Passage has always maintained his innocence and waged public campaigns, mostly through social media, for his release from prison. He failed to receive a pardon from former President Donald J. Trump in 2021 after months of petitioning and has since refocused his efforts on President Biden.

After he received his cancer diagnosis, Mr. Maldonado-Passage was later transferred to a medical facility in North Carolina, according to his lawyer, Mr. Phillips.

The next month, court documents showed that Mr. Maldonado-Passage was delaying treatment until after his resentencing, according to The Associated Press.

At the courthouse in Oklahoma City on Friday, supporters of Mr. Maldonado-Passage attended the hearing, some wearing animal-print masks and T-shirts that read: “Free Joe Exotic,” The A.P. reported.

Johnny Diaz contributed reporting




Circassia News

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