Joe Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison after being convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin. A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Denver Circuit found that the trial court improperly treated these two convictions separately in calculating his prison sentence in accordance with the determination guidelines of the trouble.
The blonde mule-clad zookeeper, known for his swear words on YouTube and a failed Oklahoma governorship campaign in 2018, featured prominently in the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness ”.
The panel agreed with Maldonado-Passage that the court should have treated them as one conviction when sentencing, as they both involved the same goal of killing Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida. According to the ruling, the court should have calculated its range of advisory sentences between 17 and a half 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.
It is possible that Maldonado-Passage will receive a sentence even lower than the range cited in the decision, because the court must also take into account other factors, said his appeals lawyer, Brandon Sample.
Meanwhile, another lawyer representing Maldonado-Passage, John M. Phillips, hinted at the possibility of seeking a new trial, saying in a statement he would file motions citing 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. It was snowflakes on the tip of the iceberg, made largely 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 request, lawyers for Maldonado-Passage argued that he had been “betrayed and betrayed” by others and said “he will likely die in prison” due to health problems. He is serving his sentence in a medical prison in Fort Worth, Texas.
This story was corrected to say that the appeals court said the trial court should have calculated a range of advisory sentences between 17.5 years and just under 22 years in prison, not that Maldonado-Passage should have been condemned within this range.
Colleen Slevin/The Associated Press