Tiger King's Joe Exotic has his sentence vacated by appeals court judge

Jailed 'Tiger King' star Joseph Maldonado-Passage, AKA Joe Exotic, had his 22-year prison sentence for a failed murder-for-hire plot conviction vacated by an appeals court judge. 

According to court documents filed Wednesday, the judge reaffirmed Exotic's conviction, but decided to remand him for resentencing.

The court has not yet set a resentencing date.  

Former zookeeper Exotic, 58, was arrested in September, 2018 on suspicion of hiring two men to murder rival and Big Cat Rescue activist Carole Baskin.

'We hold that the district court acted within its discretion by allowing Baskin to attend the full trial proceedings despite her being listed as a government witness, but that it erred by not grouping the two murder-for-hire convictions at sentencing,' the appeal said.  

An appeals court judge vacated the Tiger King Joseph Maldonado-Passage, AKA Joe Exotic's, 22-year sentence on a murder for hire conviction Wednesday, and he will need to be resentenced at a later date

Prosecutors said Exotic gave someone $3,000 to travel from Oklahoma to Florida to murder Baskin and agreed to pay thousands more after the deed. 

After a week-long trial in March 2019, Exotic was convicted on two counts of attempted murder for hire, and 17 charges of federal animal abuse. 

He was sentenced on Jan. 22, 2020 and has remained in prison since.  

The guidelines the judge used at trial had called for a sentence of between 22 and 27 years. 

The court sent the case back for resentencing, saying the appropriate guidelines call for a sentence between 17 and half to around 22 years, meaning he could potentially receive a lighter sentence. 

Throughout the course of his prison term Exotic repeatedly has made appeals for a presidential pardon, with his most recent in May, when he announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

In a social media post, Exotic wrote: 'John Phillips [Joe's lawyer] has received my medical records from FMC Fort Worth and my PSA count came back very high for prostate cancer.

Exotic has been serving out his prison sentence since January, 2020

'The prison has approved testing to verify what stage it is in. My body is tired, I have lost a tremendous amount of weight, the mouth sores are out of control, I throw up more than I eat.' 

 He added that he didn't 'want anyone's pity', but was instead keen for a pardon from 'President Biden, VP Harris and the Attorney General', and he accused the police and the Department of Justice of corruption.

Exotic went on: 'Make this right and sign that pardon that Trump left behind so I can go home and get proper medical care and proper food.

Exotic has repeatedly made pleas for a presidential pardon, first to former President Donald Trump, and most recently to President Joe Biden, as he revealed on social media that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer

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'Thank you for all the love and support from all over the world. I love you all. Wish me luck…#JusticeForJoeExotic #TigerKing #JoeExotic @JohnPhillips.'

The Kansas native requested a pardon from one-term President Donald Trump back in September, sending him a handwritten letter, then later sued the Justice Department in December as a last-ditch effort. Both efforts failed.

He most recently hired a new legal team, and they plan to use unaired Tiger King footage to push for a new trial.

His nemesis: Carole Baskin is pictured with husband Howard at Big Cat Rescue

Attorney John Phillips of Phillips & Hunt, who previously represented the family of Baskin's missing husband Don Lewis, made the announcement in a video on Joe's Twitter.

He said: 'We are honored to announce that Joe has retained our firm. We're going to seek a new trial, and justice in the criminal and civil courts.'   

Nicolas Cage's Tiger King drama is scrapped by Amazon because producers felt Joe Exotic story is 'no longer relevant' 

Nicolas Cage will no longer play Joe Exotic in a planned biopic because the Tiger King drama has been scrapped by Amazon.

The Oscar-winning actor, 57, confirmed the news in a recently interview with Variety, telling the publication that although he had read 'excellent scripts' for the project, too much time had passed for it to go ahead.

He told the publication: 'We should clear the record. I read two excellent scripts, which I did think were excellent, but I think Amazon ultimately felt that it was material that had become past tense because it took so long for it come together.

Change of plan: Nicolas Cage will no longer play Joe Exotic in a planned biopic because the Tiger King drama has been scrapped by Amazon

'They felt at one point that it was lightning in a bottle, but that point has since faded into the distance and it’s no longer relevant.'

However, while Amazon declined to comment to Variety about the future of the series, it has been suggested by sources that the series could be 'shopped to other outlets.'

Though it remains unclear whether Nicolas would have any involvement. 

Plans for the eight-part series, produced by Imagine and CBS Studios, were revealed in May last year, with the Face/Off star cast to play the disgraced zookeeper. 

Too late: Nicolas , seen here in Con Air, explained: 'I think Amazon ultimately felt that it was material that had become past tense because it took so long for it come together'

The news of the axe comes 16 months after the docuseries Tiger King first dropped on Netflix, which charted the rivalry between Joe and his nemesis, big cat activist Carole Baskin.

Elsewhere, a different Joe Erotic series is still going ahead.

On Sunday, Hedwig and the Angry Inch's John Cameron Mitchell was spotted for the first time taking on the titular role of Peacock limited series, Joe Exotic.

The Texan-born 58-year-old rocked a blonde mullet wig, guy-liner, and a natural mustache in order to more authentically portray Joe Maldonado-Passage on the Brisbane, Australian set.

Filming: On Sunday, Hedwig and the Angry Inch's John Cameron Mitchell (left) was spotted for the first time taking on the titular role of Peacock limited series, Joe Exotic

John and another actor playing Joe's partner between 1986–2001 - Brian Rhyne - were shooting a nineties-era scene of a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of Super Pets. 

In real life, Maldonado-Passage (then known as Schreibvogel) bought Pet Safari in Arlington, TX with Rhyne, who died of complications from HIV in 2001.

After cutting the ribbon, Mitchell passionately packed on the PDA with his castmate in the show, which will also stream on NBC and USA Network. 

Kate McKinnon (pictured May 22) produces and stars as Joe's nemesis Carole BaskinDennis Quaid pictured in 2019Kyle MacLachlan pictured in 2020

The 58-year-old former roadside zookeeper eventually went on to marry Travis Maldonado (played by Nat Wolff) John Finlay (played by Sam Keeley) in a 2015 throuple wedding ceremony. 

Justin Tipping directs the first four episodes of the series based on Robert Moor's 2020 Wondery podcasts, Joe Exotic and Over My Dead Body.

Kate McKinnon produces and stars as Joe's nemesis Carole Baskin alongside Dennis Quaid, Kyle MacLachlan, William Fichtner, Brian Van Holt, Dean Winters, Joel Marsh Garland, and Lex Mayson.  

Source material: Justin Tipping directs the first four episodes of the series based on Robert Moor's 2020 Wondery podcasts, Joe Exotic and Over My Dead Body

Elsewhere, Nicolas is set to work on his newest project, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent' in which he plays a cash-strapped version of himself who agrees to a paid appearance as a rich fan's birthday bash amid a CIA sting operation. 

Admitting he initially hesitated at the thought of portraying a distorted version of himself, he said: 'It was absolutely terrifying and I’m one of those folks that thinks that within reason if it’s something that terrifies you or you are afraid of, as long as it doesn’t hurt you or someone else, that’s the very thing you should reach out towards.

'I’d never done a meta movie about myself before. But [the character] really isn’t me. It’s Tom’s version of me, which is a kind of anxiety-ridden, completely hyperactive version of this person named Nicolas Cage or Nic Cage or Nicky Cage.'

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