A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Tiger King’s Joe Exotic should get a shorter prison sentence for his role in a murder-for-hire plot and violating federal wildlife laws.
Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, and was the star of a docuseries that became a big hit during the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year, was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison after being convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill animal sanctuary owner Carole Baskin.
A three-judge panel for the US court of appeals for the 10th circuit in Denver, Colorado, found that the trial court wrongly treated those two convictions separately in calculating his prison term under sentencing guidelines.
The panel agreed with Exotic that the court should have treated them as one conviction at sentencing because 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 sentenced Exotic to somewhere between 17 and a half years and just under 22 years in prison, rather than between just under 22 years and 27 years in prison. The court ordered the trial court to resentence Exotic.
The controversial zookeeper, known for his expletive-laden rants on YouTube and a failed 2018 campaign for the governorship of Oklahoma, was prominently featured in the popular Netflix true-crime series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.
The authorities last year took away the license for the sprawling private zoo in Oklahoma where Exotic bred tigers, allowed visitors to hold tiger cubs to be photographed with and sometimes struggled to have the resources to feed all the animals there, as portrayed in the TV series.