Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison for violating multiple wildlife laws and for his role in two murder-for-hire plots against Carole Baskin. The notorious big-cat owner launched an appeal, stating the court had erred by allowing Baskin to attend the entire court proceedings and in failing to group together his murder-for-hire convictions.
Judge Gregory Phillips passed the opinion of the three-judge panel who considered the appeal. He stated that while the court “acted within its discretion by allowing Baskin to attend”, he agreed that “the court erred by not grouping the two murder-for-hire convictions”.
Phillips “affirmed” the conviction of the court, saying the rivalry between Baskin and Exotic (which he labelled as “made in heaven”) had pushed Exotic to plot murder. The new ruling means Exotic’s sentence will be “vacated” – meaning it will be altered to appropriately reflect the law. By grouping the charges Exotic’s sentence will be reduced to between 210 and 262 months in prison. Separately he faced between 262 and 327 months.
Responding to the ruling in a phone call, Exotic said he looked forward to proving his complete innocence “in the very, very near future”.
“We’re going to get through all this corruption and expose the truth for a change and I’m finally going to have a voice and the hopes to walk home.” He went on to say that the ruling was the “first step” in proving his innocence and made a direct appeal to President Joe Biden to sign his pardon.
Hailing the ruling as “one of many more victories to come”, Exotic’s legal team announced their intention to press ahead for another trial.
“Now that the appellate court has ruled, we will be filing motions on Joe’s behalf that will reveal both undisclosed and newly discovered evidence, as well as numerous examples of government misconduct.” Announced lead lawyer, John M. Phillips.
“Among the evidence ignored by the public defenders, is the fact that Howard Baskin worked with Matt Bryant, the lead Federal Fish and Wildlife investigating officer, for years before all of these events transpired, including discussing infiltration of Joe’s zoo to get him arrested. This is one of thousands of important facts withheld from the jury.”
The newly obtained emails show that correspondence between Howard Baskin and Matthew Bryant occurred as far back as 2015. The pair discuss plans “to put someone in there [the zoo] undercover” in order to obtain “more specific information and “provide an unimpeachable credible account”.
In other emails Bryant and Baskin discuss the legality of keeping and selling tiger cubs. Baskin states that he believes Exotic to be selling them without a permit – in one case for $18,000 – and transporting them across state lines. Bryant responds that “there is a network of people who use tiger cubs to make money” and goes on to reference names made familiar by Netflix’s Tiger King. In particular he mentions Doc Antle, whom he describes as “much smarter” than Exotic, adding that it would be “much more difficult” to get someone inside his facility.
Joe Exotic shot to sudden fame after the Netflix series ‘Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem & Madness‘, which explored the American big cat industry. The series held a particular focus on Exotic and his vocal rivalry with Carole Baskin leading up to his imprisonment.
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