byJavier Hasse, Benzinga Editor
December 7, 2023 9:37 AM
Joe Exotic, the flamboyant former zookeeper and star of Netflix’s “Tiger King,” is continuing his legal battle from behind bars in federal prison, alleging that serious misconduct and conspiracy led to his wrongful conviction. Exotic, serving a 21-year sentence for murder-for-hire and animal abuse charges claims in recent motions filed by his legal team that he was the victim of a coordinated effort to ensure his conviction.
In 2020, Exotic (Joseph Maldonado-Passage) was found guilty on multiple counts, including two counts of murder-for-hire and 17 federal charges of animal abuse. The verdict, reached after extensive deliberations, was a pivotal moment in a case that had captured the nation's attention. This conviction was seen as a significant legal outcome in the battle against wildlife crimes and marked a turning point in Exotic's life, shifting him from a colorful personality to a convicted felon.
In a conversation with Benzinga Cannabis, Exotic stated, “This former secret service agent is going to the White House to... hand over... the evidence [to support the case that] I’m innocent and the proof the U.S. attorneys knew their witnesses were lying.” He insists on his innocence, emphasizing a conspiracy involving federal agents and key witnesses.
Motions filed allege that individuals such as Alan Glover, James Garretson, Jeff Lowe and Lauren Lowe conspired with federal investigators, engaging in evidence tampering and witness intimidation. Exotic’s defense also highlights undisclosed relationships between Carole Baskin and government witnesses, an accusation Baskin has consistently denied.
Despite these claims, Exotic’s conviction was upheld. Prosecutors and the jury found substantial evidence supporting the 17 federal charges of animal abuse and the two counts of attempted murder for hire.
Exotic’s case has garnered immense media attention, partly fueled by the success of “Tiger King.” This media influence is a critical aspect of Exotic’s defense, suggesting it may have impacted the judicial process and public opinion. However, the tangible impact of this media attention on the legal proceedings is difficult to quantify.
Speaking on his health struggles, Exotic, whose prostate cancer is currently in remission, is also battling common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), which affects his immune system. This has added a layer of urgency to his fight for a new trial.
Exotic remains adamant about his innocence and the alleged injustices in his case, saying, “The DOJ is ignoring this evidence. Seems no one cares about the truth... Everything is on joeexoticusa.com/evidence... It’s all there to be exposed finally 'cause it’s all coming out in Denver at my appeal.”
As the legal saga continues, the balance between Exotic’s allegations and the judicial evidence leading to his conviction remains a contentious point. The outcome of his appeal, amidst these complex claims of conspiracy and misconduct, will be pivotal in this high-profile case, underscoring the ongoing debate over the intersections of celebrity, justice and media in the American legal system.