The star of the Netflix series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” is serving a 22-year sentence after being convicted of plotting to murder longtime rival and animal rights activist Carole Baskin, as well as violating federal wildlife laws. The former zookeeper was said to have been so confident he’d be included on Trump’s clemency list that his legal team had ordered a limousine to retrieve him from a Fort Worth prison.
But when Trump issued 144 pardons and commutations just hours before his term ended Wednesday, Exotic ― whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage ― was not included. The 57-year-old expressed his frustrations on Twitter, implying that his sexuality may have played a factor in the former president’s decision.
“I was too innocent and too GAY to deserve a Pardon from Trump,” he tweeted Wednesday afternoon. Referencing a meme shared by Donald Trump Jr. in March that showed his father’s head superimposed on Exotic’s mugshot, he added, “Boy were we all stupid to believe he actually stood for Equal Justice? His corrupt friends all come first.”
On Thursday, Exotic spoke further about his case on Twitter.
“For the record, all I ever asked for was the truth and evidence to be told in my defense,” he wrote. Noting that the limousine and other vehicles that had reportedly been secured for his release were “not my idea nor did I rent them,” he added, “Now can we please concentrate on exposing the corruption and what they really did to me was wrong.”
His fellow inmates, he continued, “are also very disappointed I didn’t get this pardon because they all say I don’t belong in here.”
Last year, Exotic sent a handwritten letter to Trump arguing that he did not get a fair trial when he was convicted in 2019 and was requesting a pardon.
“My parents and my life and everything we ever worked for was stolen by criminals who got everything,” he wrote in September, noting that he voted for the president in 2016. “Allow me to make you proud, to make America proud, to make the world proud. Be my hero please.”
When asked about the possibility of pardoning Exotic last April, Trump said he wasn’t aware of the case but added, “I’ll take a look.”
One person who wasn’t vexed about Exotic not receiving a presidential pardon, however, was Baskin.
“From the very time that he was sentenced I have worried about there being a presidential pardon that could undo all of the hard work that went into bringing this person to justice,” she said Wednesday on Fox News. “When today at noon a new president was sworn in, I felt like I was finally safe from that threat.”
She then added, “He belongs behind bars.”