Ex-Wynnewood zookeeper testifies in his murder-for-hire trial - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Ex-Wynnewood zookeeper testifies in his murder-for-hire trial

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Joe "Joe Exotic" Maldonado-Passage speaking to KTEN in January 2016. (KTEN) Joe "Joe Exotic" Maldonado-Passage speaking to KTEN in January 2016. (KTEN)

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.

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