‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic asks Trump for pardon: ‘Be my hero please’

Entertainment

(Source: Santa Rosa County Jail, AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — “Tiger King” star Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who was found guilty in a murder-for-hire plot to kill the owner of Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue, is reportedly seeking a pardon from President Donald Trump.

Exotic’s legal team is expected to hand over a 257-page document requesting a pardon on Wednesday, according to TMZ.

Maldonado-Passage, better known by his stage name, Joe Exotic, was sentenced earlier this year to 22 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot to try to kill Carole Baskin, the owner of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa.

Baskin, whose rivalry with Exotic was documented in the Netflix hit “Tiger King,” was granted ownership of Exotic’s former zoo in June.

“My parents and my life and everything we ever worked for was stolen by criminals who got everything,” Exotic wrote in the letter, according to TMZ.

Exotic has accused Baskin of killing her former husband, Don Lewis. Baskin, never officially a suspect, has maintained her innocence.

Exotic and his legal team also deny that he tried to kill Baskin, calling the threats made against her “hyperbole.”

“Joe’s jokes, at most, in bad taste, were merely jokes,” his attorneys said.

In the letter, Exotic argues he did not get a fair trial because he was “just some gay, gun-toting redneck in Oklahoma” before his recent “Tiger King” fame.

Furthermore, Exotic claims to have been “sexually assaulted by jail staff, beat up and tied in a chair to the point the skin came off my arms.”

“Please be my hero,” he pleads in the letter. “My hands are damaged from the abuse in jail so I’m sorry for the soppy [sic] writing and spelling.”

Exotic, a Trump supporter, said he voted for the president in 2016 when he briefly ran for president.

“I have seen what they do to you,” he wrote. “Allow me to make you proud, to make America proud, to make the world proud. Be my hero please.”

His husband featured in the documentary, Dillon Passage, also wrote a letter, saying Exotic helped save him from addiction.

“I see a sweet, big heart man, with good intentions, who took a few steps down a dark road, and he’s just waiting to be pulled out of it,” Dillon Passage wrote.

Exotic was also convicted of killing five tigers, shooting them in the head. In the letter, he admits to shooting some tigers that were ill, saying they were “humanely euthanized.”

Trump was asked in April whether he would consider a pardon for Exotic, but it’s unclear if he is considering granting him clemency.

“I know nothing about it,” the president said in April. “He has 22 years for what? What did he do?”

“Do you think he didn’t do it? Are you on his side? Are you recommending a pardon?” Trump asked the journalist. “As a reporter, you’re not allowed to do that.”

“I’ll take a look,” he added.

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