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Court orders Joe Exotic to be re-sentenced

Court orders Joe Exotic to be re-sentenced
Joseph Maldonado-Passage of Netflix's "Tiger King" is to be re-sentenced after an appeals court ruled in his favor on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Netflix

July 14 (UPI) -- An appeals court has ordered for Joe Exotic of Netflix's series "Tiger King" fame to be re-sentenced on Wednesday after he appealed his 22-year prison sentence as too long.

Exotic, who was born Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced to 264 months' imprisonment in January 2020 when a court found him guilty of 21 charges, most stemming from wildlife charges concerning his care for big cats that he held in captivity.

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Two of the charges were in connection to his murder-for-hire plot to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin.

The Oklahoma zoo keeper appealed his murder-for-hire convictions on the grounds that the court erred in allowing Baskin to attend the entire trial proceedings despite being a listed government witness and that the court failed to group his two murder-for-hire plot charges together, causing him to incur a lengthier sentence.

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The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver, Colo., in a court document filed Wednesday said it affirms Maldonado-Passage's conviction and that the court acted within its discretion by allowing Baskin to witness the entire trial.

However, it did err by not grouping the two murder-for-hire convictions together, the court said.

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"We affirm the conviction but vacate the sentence and remand for re-sentencing," the judges said.

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The court agreed with Maldonado-Passage that the two charges should have been grouped together as they involve the same victim with the common criminal objective of her murder.

Maldonado-Passage shot to fame as the eccentric titular character on the Netflix series that aired in 2020 about his Oklahoma big cat zoo and his murder-for-hire plot.

The court described the conflict between Maldonado-Passage and Baskin as "a rivalry made in heaven" that intensified after she sued the zoo keeper and won for copyright and trademark infringement.

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Maldonado-Passage retaliated, mostly online, with threats but then he began plotting her death and had twice within a few weeks to hire men, one of whom was an undercover FBI agent, to kill her.

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