“I felt like my life was in danger,” Alleged intended target in murder-for-hire trial against ‘Joe Exotic’ testifies

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The murder-for-hire trial against Oklahoma's 'tiger king' Joseph Maldonado Passage, best known as 'Joe Exotic', resumed Tuesday with the alleged intended target testifying on the stand.

Maldonado-Passage, former owner of the Greater Wynnewood Animal Park, was indicted in September 2018 on two counts of hiring a person to commit murder. The former gubernatorial candidate and 2016 presidential hopeful is also facing 19 counts of wildlife charges, including violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Federal prosecutors allege Maldonado-Passage of hiring a person in November 2017 to murder "Jane Doe", who has since been identified as Carole Baskin, in Florida. In a second count, the indictment alleges that beginning in July 2016, Maldonado-Passage repeatedly asked a different unnamed person to find someone to commit the murder in exchange for money.

Baskin is the CEO of the Big Cat Rescue, an animal rescue based in Tampa, Florida. She claims Maldonado-Passage had been threatening her for years.

"I felt like my life was in danger," Baskin testified on the stand Tuesday.

In court, videos posted online by Maldonado-Passage in years' past were brought into question. This includes one where a doll, allegedly dressed to depict Baskin, was shot by Maldonado-Passage.

He is heard in the video asking, "You want to know why Carole Baskin better never ever, ever see me face to face?"

Baskin sued Maldonado-Passage in 2011 for copyright infringement and a 2013 judgement was ruled in her favor, ordering Maldonaldo-Passage to pay her $1 million dollars. She testified Tuesday the videos demonstrated in court were only a "small sample" of the ones she is aware of, adding the threats continued from 2013 through 2017.

During cross examination, the defense questioned whether Baskin was ever physically assaulted by Maldonado-Passage or anyone on his behalf. To which, she answered no.

"He never got the opportunity," she said.

According to Baskin, she tried to get a restraining order against Maldonado-Passage and began carrying a gun.

On Monday, seven witnesses testified on behalf of the government in federal court during the first day of trial which had a heavy focus on alleged tiger killings at the Garvin County park. Among the witnesses were former employees and acquaintances.

The trial is expected to last for more than a week.

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