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Joe Exotic convicted in murder-for-hire plot of Big Cat Rescue founder

Hillsborough County
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The Latest on the trial of a former Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate accused in a murder-for-hire plot (all times local):

2:55 p.m.

A federal jury has convicted a former Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate and zookeeper in an attempted murder-for-hire plot.

Jurors returned the guilty verdict Tuesday in the trial of 56-year-old Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage. He was accused of trying to arrange the killing of Florida animal sanctuary founder Carole Baskin, who criticized his treatment of animals. Baskin wasn’t harmed.

Maldonado-Passage, known as “Joe Exotic,” was also accused of killing five tigers, and selling and offering to sell tiger cubs. He faces more than 20 years in prison.

Maldonado-Passage testified Monday that although disagreements with Baskin spilled over into his social media posts, he never truly wanted her dead.

As well as running unsuccessfully for Oklahoma governor last year as a Libertarian, Maldonado-Passage also operated a zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma.

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11:30 a.m.

A jury on Tuesday began deliberating the case of an ex-Oklahoma zookeeper and former candidate for governor accused in an attempted murder-for-hire plot.

Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, better known as “Joe Exotic,” is accused of trying to arrange the killing of Carole Baskin, founder of a Florida animal sanctuary who criticized his treatment of animals. Baskin wasn’t harmed.

He’s also accused of killing five tigers in October 2017 and selling and offering to sell tiger cubs.

The 56-year-old Maldonado-Passage has pleaded not guilty and testified Monday that although disagreements with Baskin spilled over into his social media posts, he never wanted her dead.

Maldonado-Passage used to operate a zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma.

Known for his blonde mullet and expletive-laden rants on YouTube, Maldonado-Passage finished third in a three-way Libertarian primary in 2018. Maldonado-Passage also appeared on John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” when he was a 2016 write-in candidate for president.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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