Ex-Oklahoma zookeeper testifies in his murder-for-hire trial
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An ex-Oklahoma zookeeper and former candidate for governor says he never wanted to kill a woman who investigators say was the target of a murder-for-hire plot.
Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic,” testified in his own defense Monday at a federal trial. He’s accused of trying to arrange the killing of Carole Baskin, the founder of a Florida animal sanctuary who has criticized Maldonado-Passage’s treatment of animals. Baskin wasn’t harmed.
Maldonado-Passage testified he didn’t deny disagreements with Baskin spilled over into his social media posts. But Maldonado-Passage says he never wanted Baskin dead.
Prosecutors say Maldonado-Passage offered $10,000 to an undercover FBI agent to kill Baskin, and the conversation was recorded. His attorneys say he wasn’t being serious.
Maldonado-Passage faces more than 20 years in prison if convicted.