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Attorneys for 'Tiger King' Joe Exotic appeal resentencing, file motion for new trial

A federal judge resentenced Joe Exotic also known as the "Tiger King" to 21 years in prison on Friday.

OKLAHOMA CITY — It has been a little over two months since Joe Exotic received his resentencing before a federal judge, but even then his attorneys said they had plans to appeal the decision.

The former zookeeper was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in prison after he was convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill Carol Baskin. A federal judge would then resentence Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, to 21 years in prison despite pleas from the former zookeeper for leniency due to his cancer diagnosis.

Attorneys for Maldonado filed a motion for a new trial on April 1 stating the "real controversy" was not fully tried, according to court documents.  

An appeal was also filed for the resentencing on April 12, records show. The notice of appeal was filed on Feb. 11, 2022. His attorneys Amy Hanna and John M. Phillips believe his resentencing to serve consecutive sentences resulting in 21 years in prison violate his constitutional right to due process.

"No reasonable defendant could have fair warning that a murder-for-hire plot that cases no harm to the victim would result in a sentence 70% higher than over the 10-year maximum," his attorneys said in court documents.

RELATED: ‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic resentenced to 21 years in prison

Maldonado's attorneys examined all evidence associated with the criminal investigation and trial and believe newly discovered evidence consisting of photographs, videos, text messages and recorded calls that were not provided "prevented Mr. Maldonado from receiving a fair trial." 

They believe there were deleted text messages and recordings, in addition to some evidence that was not turned over that held "intent" to misrepresent the facts and material relevant to the case, including Maldonado's innocence, his attorneys said in the court filing.

In addition, Maldonado's attorneys said two of the tigers "allegedly shot and killed" by Maldonado survived their injuries. Therefore, two of the five euthanized tigers mentioned in the indictment "are still alive."

Maldonado released the following statement from prison:

"Thank you to my attorneys for the year of hard work. My attorneys John Phillips, Amy Hanna, and Molly Parmer have dug in the trenches of hell to get the evidence they have to get me home. It's now up to the judge to approve a new trial or dismiss the whole thing, which would be the right thing to do. The right thing would be for the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney in OKC to hold the Asst. U.S. Attorney in OKC and Agent Bryant responsible for conspiracy to commit perjury, knowing their witnesses were lying.

"Only in America can the government kidnap you, lie under oath, and put you in prison when they know better. But I have faith that I will go home. God put me on a path to see and know what was wrong and what was missing in my life. I know what's wrong and I will be the voice to change this for so many people."

RELATED: 'Tiger King' star Joe Exotic says he has 'aggressive' prostate cancer

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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