icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

Joe Exotic, star of the Netflix series ‘Tiger King’, has had his 22-year sentence for plotting to murder an animal welfare activist reduced by 12 months, following a court ruling on Friday. The 58-year-old former manager of an exotic animal park in Oklahoma, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, had pleaded for leniency following his conviction for murder-for hire and violating federal wildlife laws.

Please don’t make me die in prison waiting for a chance to be free,” Maldonado-Passage, who maintains his innocence, said during court proceedings, as quoted by AP news agency.

A court had heard that the former big-cat owner killed some of his animals, sold their cubs, and falsified wildlife records. He was charged with murder-for-hire after asking an undercover FBI agent to deal with his longstanding rival, animal welfare activist Carole Baskin. Recently, he announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, as well as some other illnesses that apparently make him even more vulnerable to coronavirus.

His attorneys told the judge that their client lacks proper medical care in prison, and his time behind bars is a “death sentence… that he doesn’t deserve.” They said they would appeal the resentencing and petition for a new trial.

Maldonado-Passage has been deprived not only of a fair trial, medical care and freedom of speech, but also “the most basic and important aspect of life – social interaction,” according to his defense. Prosecutors, on the other hand, told the judge on Friday that Joe Exotic had been found in possession of a contraband cell phone and unauthorized headphones in prison, as documented in a disciplinary write-up. 

His critic and apparent target, Carole Baskin, who owns a tiger sanctuary in Florida, was also present in court and said she continued to get “vile, abusive and threatening communications.” With the man now having an even larger group of supporters, some of whom gathered during the proceedings on Friday, he “continues to harbor intense feelings of ill will toward me,” she told the judge. 

During a recorded meeting in 2017, Maldonado-Passage offered money for Baskin to be “capped” at a mall parking lot, with his attorneys later claiming his intentions had been misinterpreted. In January 2020, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison, convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill Baskin. Exotic’s defense alleged “sentencing manipulation,” and last year an appeals court ruled his jail time should be shortened because of a term calculation mistake.

His supporters were confident that he would be granted clemency when Donald Trump was leaving office, but he didn’t make it onto the pardoned list.