A federal appeals court believes an error was made when the prison term was imposed, making the guidelines longer than they should have been.
Tiger King, also known as Joe Exotic, aka Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced to 22 years in prison in January 2020 after he was convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin, according to AP. He was also jailed on charges of killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs, and falsifying wildlife records.
Now, the 2020 Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness star will be resentenced, according to a court opinion filed Wednesday, reports CNN. This is because a federal appeals court believes an error was made when the prison term was imposed, making the guidelines longer than they should have been, per NBC News.
Apparently, the two separate attempts to hire a killer to end Baskin's life were counted as two separate incidents, instead of one, while calculating his prison term under sentencing guidelines, the panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
According to the ruling, the court should have calculated his sentence to be between 17 and a half years to just under 22 years in prison, rather than between just under 22 years to 27 years.
Lawyers for Maldonado-Passage said that Wednesday's ruling hints that the 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—who has maintained his innocence— said in a statement.
In his pardon application, Maldonado-Passage’s attorneys argued that he was “railroaded and betrayed” by others, adding that “he will likely die in prison” due to his health concerns.
Also, another lawyer representing Maldonado-Passage, John M Phillips, has hinted at the possibility of seeking a new trial, citing previously undisclosed and newly discovered evidence in the case, along with examples of government misconduct.
“People should know what they saw on television isn’t the full truth. It isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. It was snowflakes on the tip of the iceberg, largely manufactured by those who wanted to see Joe Exotic in jail for their own benefit,” he said.
In a call record released by his attorneys, Maldonado-Passage—who is at a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, according to federal jail records—said he was glad the original sentence, which he said "was absolute crap to start with," was vacated.
However, PETA noted in a statement that the appeals court upheld the convictions. “'Joe Exotic' still has many years in prison ahead of him," Debbie Metzler, associate director of captive animal law enforcement for the PETA Foundation, said in the statement.
Cover Image Source: IMDb/Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020)