Joe Exotic asks for different judge ahead of new sentencing hearing

Tiger King is returning to Netflix.

The streaming service just announced that season two will be released later this year. The true crime documentary series features Oklahoman’s own Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic. It showcases his time with the zoo, his arrest, and the people involved in his downfall.

Some of those people who helped put Maldonado-Passage in prison are now changing their story.

FOX23 told you in July that Maldonado-Passage had been granted a new sentencing hearing. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison for a list of charges, including the “murder for hire” plot.

But before Maldonado-Passage returns to the courtroom, his attorney is asking for a new judge.

John Phillips says Judge Scott Palk has been on the bench for both of Maldonado-Passage’s civil and criminal cases. Through his publicist, FOX23 spoke with Maldonado-Passage from prison about the request.

“I don’t think a sentencing with Judge Palk could ever be fair...  it could be thrown out altogether…. that would be the honest thing to do is to completely throw this out and overturn my conviction,” said Maldonado-Passage.

Phillips wants a different judge to examine new evidence. Phillips says Jeff Lowe made revealing statements in an affidavit that he signed. It has now been filed in court. Phillips says Lowe befriended Maldonado-Passage, worked with him at the Wynnewood Zoo, and then helped federal agents gather evidence against Maldonado-Passage.

“Jeff definitely, unquestionably sees things differently because he had an incentive for Joe to go to prison. Now, he’s understanding that he participated in that thing, that conspiracy is how we are going to argue, that he benefitted from it for awhile,” said Phillips.

The prosecution said Maldonado-Passage gave Allen Glover $3,000 to travel to Florida to kill Carole Baskin. John Reinke, Maldonado-Passage’s right-hand man at the zoo, gave FOX23 the same information.

“Me and Joe had a conversation about paying Allen to get him off the park, just because we weren’t happy with him there, he wasn’t happy there. We wanted him off the park because he was causing problems we discussed that. It was a three thousand dollar amount that we talked about. So he wasn’t paid to kill Carole like they said he was,” said Reinke.

In the affidavit, Lowe wrote that Glover did not tell him he left the park to “take out” Baskin. “The conversation between myself and Allen glover regarding the murder for hire of Carole Baskin includes text messages that were created by me and staged.  I knew I was being recorded, and statements made by me regarding Allen Glover being paid $3,000 to go to Tampa to kill Carole Baskin were not true. Allen glover never went to Florida,” wrote Lowe.

Lowe also claims that a wildlife agent orchestrated the questions he should ask, and that the agent told him exactly what he needed Maldonado-Passage and Glover to say in order to complete the murder for hire.

Maldonado-Passage told FOX23 that it isn’t right for him to face charges for both the murder for hire and the tiger shootings in the same trial. Lowe said he was told that the charges were stacked on top of the murder for hire charge so, “we get some jurors’ heartstrings bleeding on shooting those cats and showing pictures of the tiger dig.”

Lowe did not testify at Maldonado-Passage’s trial. Neither did Reinke.

Phillips gave FOX23 video showing one of the attorneys reading Glover’s statements admitting his lied on the stand during the trial, and Glover confirms the information.

The U.S. Attorney’s office tells FOX23 that they do not comment on pending cases.

Lowe did not want to talk with FOX23. FOX23 has not been able to reach Glover for comment. The new sentencing date has not yet been announced.