OKLAHOMA CITY - A federal judge in Oklahoma has set a January 28th date for the presentencing of "Tiger King" Joe Exotic.
In July, a federal appeals court ruled that Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, should get a shorter sentence in a murder-for-hire plot against Big Cat Rescue's CEO Carole Baskin.
He was originally sentenced to 22 years in prison back in January 2020, but the appeals court said the two murder plots were incorrectly treated separately in calculating his prison term.
However, the appeals court said the court should have calculated his advisory sentencing range between 17 1/2 years and just under 22 years in prison, rather than between just under 22 years and 27 years in prison. Maldonado-Passage, who maintains his innocence, also was sentenced for killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs, and falsifying wildlife records.
Joe Exotic holding his Smith & Wesson pistol in the "Tiger King" docu-series. (MORE)
In November, he announced he has prostate cancer and, just a couple of weeks ago, said he was delaying treatment until after his resentencing. He was transferred from a federal medical center in Fort Worth, Texas, to a federal medical center in Butner, North Carolina.
U.S. District Judge Scott Palk set the resentencing for 10 a.m. on Jan. 28 and granted the defendant’s request to be transported to Oklahoma City for the hearing.
In a separate action, a couple who succeeded Maldonado-Passage in operating the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park and Tiger King Park agreed to surrender their rights to 97 animals of endangered or threatened species and 47 other animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act.
Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe, who are former friends of Maldonado-Passage, also agreed in a Dec. 23 consent decree filed in federal court in Muskogee, Oklahoma, to never again exhibit animals.
Federal agents seized the 97 endangered animals, including 68 big cats and a jaguar, from Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma, in two seizures last May and August. Federal officials accused the Lowes of harming and harassing the animals.
Netflix recently released the second season of Tiger King, which Baskin attempted to file a restraining order to delay and prevent its release, claiming the footage was recorded for use in the first series. She said she did not consent to its use for a second season. However, a judge denied the restraining order.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister reopened the case following the premiere of the popular Netflix documentary, Tiger King, in March 2020. Since then, three detectives have taken over the investigation.
Even over a year later, Corporal Moises Garcia said they are still exploring some "avenues," but, since it's an ongoing investigation, couldn't specify further.
"It was frustrating. I would like to get on that property and look around," Detective Garcia explained, adding that the agency has requested to interview Baskin three times – but was denied through her attorney. "She does a lot of interviews and she does a lot of online interviews with different personalities where she says the sheriff's office has not even approached her. That can be very frustrating when you know you've approached multiple times."
File image of Don Lewis
Tiger King dove into the world of big cat owners during its first season. An entire episode was dedicated to the circumstances involving the disappearance of Baskin's husband. In the documentary, one theory implied that Lewis' body was placed in a meat grinder and fed to the tigers. It's a theory that Baskin disputed. Another was that his body may be under a septic tank at the Big Cat Rescue property.
Anyone with information about Lewis' disappearance is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at 813-247-8200.
The Associated Press contributed to this report