DENVER, Colo. (KFOR) – Could Joe Exotic be spending less time behind bars? One expert says a new decision from a US Court of Appeals could lead to a shorter sentence for the Tiger King.
The story of Joe Maldonado Passage aka ‘Joe Exotic’ continues.
Today, Judge Phillips of the US Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down the decision that Exotic’s convictions stand, but a Federal judge will have to resentence him.
“Today my sentence was vacated which we knew was, uh, absolute crap to start with,” said Joe Exotic on the phone from federal prison today.
Back in 2019, the infamous showman from the Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park was convicted on two counts of murder for hire involving plots against fellow big cat handler Carole Baskin. He was also found guilty on 17 counts involving wrongdoing with his animals.
In 2020, a federal judge then handed down a 22-year sentence for his crimes.
But Joe Exotic and his attorneys appealed the decision and the sentencing and Wednesday, an appellate court saying “we affirm the conviction but vacate the sentence and remand for resentencing.“
“What the 10th Circuit has said is that we are not going to overturn the conviction. We are not saying the court made any erroneous rulings during the trial portion but, at sentencing the court misapplied the meaning of some of the guideline rules,“ said OKC trial attorney Jacqui Ford.
Those guidelines involved the two murder for hire convictions that were originally to be nine years each and ordered to be served consecutively.
“The appellate court, in this case, went to great lengths to say the judge did not screw this up, that this is was a reasonable misinterpretation of the guidelines, but through their guidance they want him to group some of these convictions together to see if with the grouping, the sentence should be changed,” said Ford.
Ford says this could lead to a few years being shaved off his sentence. But Exotic says this is a ray of hope for freedom.
“This is the first step of proving that the judge made a mistake, uh, right along with the other mistakes that everything was made during my case with not showing the evidence, hiding evident and covering up evidence,” said Maldonado-Passage.
The Tiger King now calling on President Joe Biden, much like he did with President Donald Trump last year, to take action.
“President Biden if you are listening or hear this, this is the time you need to be a world hero and sign that pardon and call this enough is enough,” said Exotic.
Ford says this is neither an uncommon nor a frequent occurrence to vacate a sentencing.
Ford also says she didn’t think the high profile of the case forced the decision. She says the 10th circuit deals with cases like Joe Exotic’s all the time.
PETA officials issuing a statement today saying in part.
“‘Joe Exotic’ still has many years in prison ahead of him, his convictions for gunning down five endangered tigers and other wildlife crimes stand.”
No date has been set yet for resentencing.