On January 28, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, popularized as Joe Exotic from the Netflix series “Tiger King,” appeared before a federal judge in Oklahoma clad in an orange prison uniform and his signature mullet hairstyle.
The judge reduced his sentence by one year, now requiring the punishment of twenty-one years for his January 2020 murder-for-hire conviction.
It is alleged that Maldonado-Passage attempted to have Carole Baskin–the animal rights activist and owner of a Tampa rescue sanctuary for big cats–killed by two different men.
Baskin and her husband were present at the hearing.
Also within the courtroom were supporters of Maldonado-Passage wearing “Free Joe Exotic” t-shirts and animal-print masks, as reported via CBSDFW.com.
Maldonado-Passage is also convicted of killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs, and falsifying wildlife records.
The ‘Tiger King’ avows his innocence of all charges.
Maldonado-Passage was initially imprisoned in a federal Fort Worth facility until he was transferred in November 2021 to a federal medical center in Butner, North Carolina, to undergo treatment for prostate cancer.
Attorney for Maldonado-Passage, John M. Phillips, communicated via email to CNN: “We are unsatisfied with the court’s decision and will appeal. The main issues will be addressed in the Motion for New Trial.”
During the hearing, according to Attorney Phillips, Maldonado-Passage told the judge, “I have two non-curable diseases and now have to add cancer to that list. Please don’t make me die in prison waiting for a chance to be free.”
Maldonado-Passage further claimed that he has been in solitary confinement and isolation for sixteen of the last twenty-two months, “being deprived of basic constitutional rights such as a fair trial, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, medical care, and the most basic and important aspect of life: social interaction.”