‘Tiger King’ Joe Unique resentenced to 21 years in jail

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal choose resentenced “Tiger King” Joe Unique to 21 years in jail on Friday, lowering his punishment by only a yr regardless of pleas from the previous zookeeper for leniency as he begins therapy for early-stage most cancers.

“Please don’t make me die in jail ready for an opportunity to be free,” he tearfully informed a federal choose who resentenced him on a murder-for-hire cost.

Joe Unique — whose actual identify is Joseph Maldonado-Passage — was convicted in a case involving animal welfare activist Carole Baskin. Each had been featured in Netflix’s “Tiger King: Homicide, Mayhem and Insanity.”

Carrying an orange jail jumpsuit, Maldonado-Passage, 58, nonetheless had his trademark mullet coiffure, however the bleach-blonde had light to brown and grey.

Baskin and her husband, Howard Baskin, additionally attended the proceedings, and she or he stated she was fearful that Maldonado-Passage might threaten her.

“He continues to harbor intense emotions of in poor health will towards me,” she informed the choose.

Baskin stated even with Maldonado-Passage in jail, she has continued to obtain “vile, abusive and threatening communications” over the past two years. She informed the choose she believes Maldonado-Passage poses an much more critical risk to her now that he has a bigger group of supporters due to the recognition of the Netflix sequence.

Maldonado-Passage’s attorneys informed the choose their shopper is affected by stage-one prostate most cancers, together with a illness that compromises his immune system, making him notably weak to COVID-19.

Stage-one prostate most cancers means it has been detected early and hasn’t unfold. Maldonado-Passage beforehand stated that he deliberate to delay therapy till after his resentencing. Federal officers have stated Maldonado-Passage will want as much as eight weeks of radiation remedies and can be unable to journey through the remedies.

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His lawyer Amy Hanna informed the choose he’s not receiving the right medical care contained in the federal jail system and {that a} prolonged jail sentence is a “demise sentence for Joe that he doesn’t deserve.”

Prosecutors additionally informed the choose Friday that Maldonado-Passage obtained a disciplinary write-up in September for being possession of a contraband cellphone and unauthorized headphones that was not included in his pre-sentencing report. Palk added that Maldonado-Passage had 4 earlier disciplinary write-ups, though he described these as “comparatively minor and never violent.”

Friday’s courtroom proceedings happened after a federal appeals courtroom dominated final yr that the jail time period he’s serving on a murder-for-hire conviction needs to be shortened.

Supporters packed the courtroom, some carrying animal-print masks and shirts that learn “Free Joe Unique.” His attorneys stated they might enchantment the resentencing and petition for a brand new trial.

“The protection submitted a sequence of attachments that confirmed extreme authorities involvement within the creation of the offense for which he’s been convicted,” lawyer Molly Parmer informed reporters after the listening to.

“We’re going to proceed our post-conviction litigation, however we did preview for the courtroom the proof we’ve by means of our post-conviction investigation.”

The previous zookeeper was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in jail after he was convicted of making an attempt to rent two completely different males to kill Baskin. A 3-judge panel of the tenth U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals agreed with Maldonado-Passage that the courtroom ought to have handled them as one conviction at sentencing as a result of they each concerned the identical aim of killing Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for large cats in Florida and had criticized Maldonado-Passage’s therapy of animals.

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Prosecutors stated Maldonado-Passage supplied $10,000 to an undercover FBI agent to kill Baskin throughout a recorded December 2017 assembly. Within the recording, he informed the agent, “Similar to comply with her right into a mall car parking zone and simply cap her and drive off.” Maldonado-Passage’s attorneys have stated their shopper — who as soon as operated a zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) south of Oklahoma Metropolis — wasn’t being critical.

Maldonado-Passage, who maintains his innocence, additionally was convicted of killing 5 tigers, promoting tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife data.


Bleed reported from Little Rock, Arkansas.

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