Judge Vacates 'Tiger King' Star Joe Exotic's Prison Sentence

By Sarah Tate

July 15, 2021

Photo: Netflix

In a win for the infamous star of Netflix's Tiger King, a judge has vacated the prison sentence handed down to Joe Exotic for a failed murder-for-hire plot. However, the court also reaffirmed his conviction, meaning he will remain behind bars until being resentenced at a later date.

Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for attempting to hire two people to murder his rival Carole Baskin.

Maldonado-Passage, through his lawyers, filed an appeal disputing the conviction, per Entertainment Tonight, arguing that "the district court erred by allowing Baskin, a listed government witness, to attend the entire trial proceedings."

He also disputed his sentence, saying that the court should have grouped the two convictions as "they involved the same victim and two or more acts or transactions that were connected by a common criminal objective: murdering Baskin."

A judge for Oklahoma's 10th District Court agreed, saying, "Although the district court apparently thought that the two murder-for-hire plots shared a common criminal objective, it mistakenly (although quite understandably) thought that grouping would be proper unless they were also part of the same course of conduct."

When Maldonado-Passage was sentenced in January 2020, the judge used guidelines that pointed to a 22 to 27 year sentence. However, the federal court judge said the appropriate guidelines actually suggest a sentence of 17.5 to 22 years.

The case will be sent back to an Oklahoma City judge to resentence Maldonado-Passage according to the new guidelines.

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