TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - The victim of an attempted murder-for-hire plot is relieved after the man who tried to have her killed was found guilty by a jury in Oklahoma Tuesday.
Joe Schreibvogel Maldonado-Passage, 56, was found guilty on two counts of murder-for-hire after prosecutors say he tried to hire someone to kill Big Cat Rescue C.E.O. Carole Baskin.
"I'm so grateful that justice has finally been served," Baskin said.
Maldonado-Passage - also known as Joe Exotic - took the stand in his own defense, arguing he was framed and had no intentions of having Baskin killed, but jurors didn't see it that way.
They did see evidence that included a threatening video Joe Exotic posted on his website depicting Baskin being shot.
Baskin says Joe Exotic, who was operating a traveling petting zoo, started targeting her after she began criticizing his treatment of animals. The alleged animal abuse was at the center of the trial, leading the jury to find him guilty on 17 counts, accusing him of killing tigers and selling their cubs.
“That was one of the most horrific things I heard," Baskin said. "He went from cage to cage shooting the tigers at point-blank range in the head with a shotgun.”
According to court documents, Joe Exotic asked an unnamed person to kill Baskin in July 2016;16 months later, he asked a second person to kill her.
This time, that person put him in touch with an undercover FBI agent, leading to his arrest.
Baskin hopes the trial will raise awareness about the dangers inhumane traveling petting zoos pose to wildlife.
“There is absolutely no situation under which you can pet a tiger cub or a lion cub or a liger cub that there wasn’t immense suffering that went on behind the scenes," Baskins said. "For you to get to do that.”
So far, a sentencing date for Maldonado-Passage has not been set, but he could face up to 20 years in prison.