Tiger King Star Joe Exotic Resentenced To 21 Years In Prison
"Tiger King" Joe Exotic today was re-sentenced, this time to 21 years in prison. An appeals court had sent the case back for re-sentencing, but the new sentence reduces his original term by just a year. At the time of his sentence vacation, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled two of his charges shouldn't have been sentenced separately. The court calculated that 22 years would be a maximum sentence, even suggesting Exotic could spend as little as 17.5 years in prison. Joe Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, has been suffering with numerous health issues, and was diagnosed with cancer in November.
Shortly after that, he was transferred to Fed Medical Center. The AP today reported that Maldonado-Passage has reportedly been delaying his cancer treatment until after his resentencing. He had hoped for a significant reduction in his sentence as a result of his health issues.
In January 2020, Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in prison, after he was convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill animal welfare activist Carole Baskin. The two were treated as separate charges -- one for each attempt to contract the killing -- and the 10th Circuit agreed with Maldonado-Passage's lawyer, who argued that it should have been only one charge, since both attempts had the same target.
The case was thrust into the national spotlight in 2020 when Netflix released Tiger King: Murder, Madness and Mayhem, a docu-series that centered on the conflict between Maldonado-Passage, a self-styled zookeeper, and animal rights activists including Baskin. The series presented the staff of Exotic's zoo as a group of eccentrics, the zoo itself as unsafe (it featured an employee who lost part of her arm in a tiger attack), and Baskin as a potential murderer.
Baskin's wealthy husband, Don Lewis, disappeared years ago, and locals immediately started speculating that Baskin could have been involved in his disappearance. There is little significant evidence to suggest this is the case, and she has not been charged with anything related to Lewis.
Baskin was later awarded ownership of Maldonado-Passage's zoo as part of a lawsuit following his conviction. In 2017, Maldonado-Passage offered an undercover FBI agent $10,000 to kill Baskin. His lawyers claimed in court that he was joking.
Supporters of Maldonado-Passage had gathered near the court, hoping for a more significant reduction in his sentence.