Joe Exotic’s 22-Year Prison Sentence Likely To Be Shortened
A federal court decided that Joseph Maldonado-Passage‘s 22-year prison sentence should be vacated and will be reconsidered. Maldonado-Passage, who is known by the name Joe Exotic, gained notoriety early on in the pandemic for the Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. The limited series told the story of Joe Exotic as the operator of Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, including his many counts of animal abuse and his attempts at hiring a hitman on his biggest critic and competitor, Carole Baskin.
While Maldonado-Passage’s sentence may be reduced, his conviction on charges of wildlife crime and murder-for-hire still stands.
In a Wednesday decision, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said, “We affirm Maldonado-Passage’s conviction but vacate the sentence and remand for resentencing.” The decision pleased the former operator’s lawyer as it will likely lead to a shorter sentence.
The court’s decision arose from a sentencing issue with the two counts of murder-for-hire. Maldonado-Passage attempted to have someone kill Baskin two times, but the charges were not grouped together. According to the court, the former zoo owner’s actions were a part of one “common criminal objective,” and shouldn’t have been treated separately.
“Baskin was neither murdered multiple times nor assaulted multiple times during attempted murders,” legal documents explained. “Her harm was one sustained, ongoing harm.”
The original sentence consisted of two counts of murder-for-hire to run consecutively and not concurrently. With the possible combination of the charges, Maldonado-Passage will likely see a significant decrease in prison time.
His legal team, who previously sought a pardon from former President Donald Trump, was encouraged by the case’s newest development. Attorney Brandon Sample told the Los Angeles Times, “I am pleased with the appellate court’s decision in Joe’s case. I knew when I agreed to represent Joe that an appeal would be difficult, but I also knew that the law was on Joe’s side. I am optimistic that the decision today is but one of many more victories to come for Joe — and his eventual freedom.”
Maldonado-Passage was originally arrested in 2019 and was sentenced in January 2020.
There is currently a “Joe Exotic” TV series for NBC in the works. John Cameron Mitchell will play the starring role of the former exotic zookeeper alongside Kate McKinnon as Baskin.