Joe Exotic: ‘Tiger King’ to be sentenced after court order

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Maldonado-Passage’s 264-month prison sentence handed down last year for murder-for-account plots involving animal rights activist Carole Baskin and multiple wildlife violations.

Maldonado-Passage appealed, arguing that her pay murder convictions should be overturned because the trial court had allowed Baskin to attend her entire trial even though she was a listed government witness .

The two counts against which he was convicted of using interstate facilities in the commission of his vicarious murder plots should have been combined, he also argued, because they “involved the same victim and two or more acts or transactions which were linked by the same criminal objective “, according to the opinion.

The panel upheld Maldonado-Passage’s conviction, finding that the district court had acted within its discretion in allowing Baskin to remain in the courtroom as a victim of a crime. However, the panel ruled that the district court “erred in not consolidating the two murder for pay convictions in sentencing.”

Maldonado-Passage’s appeal attorney told CNN he was “satisfied with the appeal court’s decision” in a statement.

“I am optimistic that today’s decision is just one of many victories to come for Joe – and his eventual freedom,” said attorney Brandon Sample.

In an audio message provided by his lawyer to KOCO, a subsidiary of CNN, Maldonado-Passage expressed hope for a new trial despite the appeal court ruling upholding his conviction.

CNN has contacted the Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma for comment. Baskin declined to comment on CNN when contacted.

‘Tiger King’ star sentenced in 2019

Maldonado-Passage was convicted by a federal jury in 2019, nearly a year before the release of the Netflix show that documented his rise and fall as the owner of an exotic wildlife park in Oklahoma.

Baskin, also featured on the show and longtime vocal critic of Maldonado-Passage Wildlife Park, owns a tiger sanctuary in Florida and previously had a million dollar judgment against him.

During the trial, a jury heard testimony that Maldonado-Passage paid a man $ 3,000 to travel from Oklahoma to Florida to kill Baskin, with a promise to pay thousands more after his death, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Maldonado-Passage had been trying to find someone to kill her since July 2016, according to the U.S. prosecutor’s office, and unknowingly met with an undercover FBI agent to discuss the details of the planned murder.

In June 2020, after Maldonado-Passage’s conviction, a judgment granted Baskin control of the Oklahoma park.

CNN’s Raja Razek, Nicole Williams, Steve Forrest, Joe Sutton, Faith Karimi and Travis Caldwell contributed to this report.


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