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Tiger King’s Joe Exotic To Be Resentenced Following Appeal

Joe Exotic in Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020)

Joe Exotic may not be free, but he’s doing a little bit better.

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, known to us as Joe Exotic thanks to Netflix’s Tiger King, was sentenced to 22 years in prison in January 2020 for two murder-for-hire counts, as well as counts dealing with endangered wildlife.

According to NBC, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that “the two murder-for-hire counts should have been grouped together when calculating sentencing because they shared the same goal, the murder of Baskin.”

By not grouping them, it forced advisory sentencing guidelines to be raised from “17 1/2 years to 21.8 years in prison to a maximum of 27 1/4 years.” Because of this, the lawyers for Exotic have said that it means that his prison sentence will be reduced.

“I am optimistic that the decision today is but one of many more victories to come for Joe — and his eventual freedom,” Brandon Sample, an appellate lawyer for Maldonado-Passage, said in a statement.

When the problematic documentary series Tiger King aired on Netflix at the very start of the pandemic, millions of people became super invested in Joe Exotic’s story all at once. He ran a “zoo” in Wynnewood, Oklahoma and got involved in a very heated feud with the leader of Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin. The series depicted the events leading up to Exotic’s conviction under federal murder-for-hire statutes.

The series did so in a way that manipulated any uncritical watchers to take the side of Exotic, placed Baskin in a villain role, and perpetuated rumors that she was responsible for the death of her former husband. This, as I’ve written about before, is a very warped view of what happened to Baskin’s husband, and the documentary demonizes her for being weird and slightly annoying. Being annoying isn’t a crime, nor does it a criminal make.

In contrast, Exotic, despite these changes, still has a lot of years in prison ahead of him. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals noted in a statement that the appeals court upheld the convictions.

“‘Joe Exotic” still has many years in prison ahead of him, his convictions for gunning down five endangered tigers and other wildlife crimes stand, and the rest of his Tiger King cohorts are still poised for their own downfalls, so neither PETA nor anyone else who cares about animals has anything to worry about.”

John M. Phillips, who leads Maldonado-Passage’s criminal and litigation team, said he will be filing motions that he said will “reveal new evidence and examples of government misconduct.”

With this news and the Cosby news, I find myself more and more annoyed at the risky and problematic ways the government officials go forward with making their cases that lead to things like this happening. Do your jobs and do them properly if you want anyone to believe in this criminal justice system.

(via NBC, image: Netflix)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.