The former zookeeper was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison after being convicted of attempting to hire two different men to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin and violating human rights laws. wildlife.
A three-judge panel from the United States Court of Appeals in Denver has ruled that Joe Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, should receive a shorter prison sentence.
Maldonado-Passage, which is known as the subject of popular Netflix documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness argued that the court should have treated him – along with the other man convicted of the murder conspiracy – as a conviction in sentencing.
The panel agreed that the court erroneously treated them separately when calculating his prison term under the sentencing guidelines because they were both involved in the same plot to kill Ms Baskin, who runs a sanctuary of rescue for big cats in Florida.
According to the ruling, the court should have calculated its range of advisory sentences between 17.5 years and just under 22 years in prison, rather than between just under 22 and 27 years in prison.
The court ordered the lower court to re-sentence Maldonado-Passage.
However, his appeals lawyer, Brandon Sample, said he could potentially receive a sentence even below the range cited in the decision, as the court must consider other factors as well.
Meanwhile, another lawyer representing Maldonado-Passage, John M Phillips, has hinted at the possibility of seeking a new trial.
Mr Phillips said in a statement he would file motions citing previously undisclosed and newly discovered evidence in the case as well as examples of government misconduct.
“People should know that what they saw on television is not the whole truth. It is not even the tip of the iceberg. They were snowflakes on the tip of the iceberg, largely made by those who wanted to see Joe Exotic in prison for their own benefit, ”he said.
Maldonado-Passage, who claimed his innocence, was also convicted of killing five tigers, selling baby tigers and falsifying wildlife records.
His supporters were disappointed that former President Donald Trump did not grant him a pardon before stepping down.
They were so confident in his chances that they had prepared a celebratory limo and a hair and wardrobe crew to take him away from jail.
In his pardon, lawyers for Maldonado-Passage argued that he had been “trafficked and betrayed” by others.
They also said the former zookeeper “would likely die in prison” due to health issues.
Maldonado-Passage is serving his sentence in a medical prison in Fort Worth, Texas.