Appeals court overturns sentence for ‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s 10th District Court ruled Wednesday that “Tiger King” Joe Exotic should get a shorter prison sentence for his role in a murder-for-hire plot and violating federal wildlife laws.

>> Read more trending news

The former Oklahoma zookeeper and one-time candidate for governor, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced in 2020 to serve 22 years in prison after being convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill Carole Baskin, according to The Associated Press.

At his sentencing, the Oklahoma City judge sentenced the two murder-for-hire counts separately, meaning that Maldonado-Passage got an individual sentence for each charge.

Maldonado-Passage argued that the judge should’ve grouped them together and just given him one sentence for both counts.

On July 14, the federal appeals court found that the trial court wrongly treated the two convictions separately in calculating his prison term under sentencing guidelines.

The panel sided with Maldonado-Passage’s appeal that the court should have treated them as one conviction at sentencing because they both involved the same goal of killing Baskin.

According to the ruling obtained by The Associated Press, the court should have sentenced Maldonado-Passage to somewhere between 17 1/2 years and just under 22 years in prison, rather than between just under 22 years and 27 years in prison.

“For the foregoing reasons, we affirm Maldonado-Passage’s conviction but vacate the sentence and remand for resentencing,” the court documents stated obtained by KOKI-TV.

The saga between Exotic and Baskin came to light due to the Netflix series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.