top of page

'Tiger King's' Joe Exotic resentenced in murder-for-hire case

NOLAN CLAY | OKLAHOMAN | 5:29 pm CST January 28, 2022

Joe Exotic was resentenced Friday to 21 years in federal prison after a judge refused to consider his complaints about his murder-for-hire conviction.

The former Oklahoma zookeeper's new punishment is only one year less than his original sentence.

His attorneys now plan to bring up their accusations of outrageous government conduct, lying witnesses and entrapment in a motion for new trial.

"It is not over," his attorney, John M. Phillips, told reporters afterward outside the Oklahoma City federal courthouse. "People wanted rid of Joe by any means necessary, and they won — for now."

'Free Joe Exotic'

Joe Exotic became famous early in the pandemic after Netflix released "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness."

The documentary series was a somewhat sympathetic look at his life, his case and his now closed zoo in Wynnewood. Millions watched while in lockdowns at home, making it a breakout hit.

Fans filled the courtroom Friday to show their support. Two wore black T-shirts that read "Free Joe Exotic."

The resentencing came six months after a federal appeals court upheld his conviction but threw out his punishment. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver found U.S. District Judge Scott Palk made an error in determining the appropriate sentencing guidelines.

The judge said Friday that he would not take up complaints about the conviction because it is outside the scope of a resentencing. The judge also said the jury had heard essentially the same complaints at trial and ultimately rejected them.

Joe Exotic told the judge Friday he did not commit any crime and has lost enough of his life because of the lies told about him. He said any time in prison would be a death sentence because of health problems that include early-state prostate cancer.

"Please don't make me die in prison waiting for a chance to be free," he said in tears.

Hit-man hire led to conviction

He was convicted at trial in 2019 of hiring hit men to kill his chief critic, Carole Baskin, and of crimes involving his animals.

The judge ordered him to prison for 22 years at a sentencing in January 2020. "It is of paramount importance in this case to provide just punishment for your offense and protect the public from further conduct you may engage in," Palk said then.

Jurors were told he targeted Baskin because she was actively seeking to collect court judgments against him of more than $1 million for trademark infringement and other civil violations.

He also was angry because she accused him of exploiting tiger cubs for profit at his zoo and on traveling shows, according to testimony. Baskin, who operates an animal sanctuary in Florida, had sought to stop him for years.

Baskin told the judge Friday that Joe Exotic is an even bigger threat to her and her family now because of his Netflix fame and the possibility his new fans could be provoked into violence.

She said he continues from prison to make persistent social media attacks against her. She called him obsessive and said he harbors intense feelings of ill will toward her.

A former inmate who was locked up with him for a year reported he ranted daily about her, she also told the judge.

Joe Exotic expected to seek new trial soon

Phillips, of Jacksonville, Florida, said the motion for a new trial will be filed next week or the week after that. He said they also will appeal the new sentence.

His attorneys already have affidavits from a number of witnesses in support of their new trial motion. Key prosecution witness Allen Glover said in a sworn statement that he committed perjury during the trial. Glover specifically said he lied when he told jurors Joe Exotic paid him $3,000 to kill Baskin.

The defense attorneys asked the judge to impose only 90 months.

Joe Exotic, who ran for governor in Oklahoma in 2018, was brought to court in chains and orange jail clothes. He still had his trademark mullet hairstyle but was noticeably thinner.

He will get credit for time already served, but, at 58 and in poor health, may die in prison if his further legal efforts fail.

Joe Exotic was born Joseph Allen Schreibvogel but his name has changed over the years depending on his marital status. His attorney told reporters he now goes by the name Joseph Maldonado.

"Justice was served," Baskin's husband told The Oklahoman after the sentencing.

"Anyone who spent 20 years mistreating animals in cages belongs in a cage for 20 years," Howard Baskin said.

Read the victim's impact statement from Carole Baskin

Carole Baskin also made a written victim impact statement that was submitted to the judge before Friday's hearing.

You can read the full victim impact statement below.

141 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page