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Joe Exotic paid $3,000 cash to have woman killed, ex-convict testifies

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Joe Exotic
Joe Exotic

The key prosecution witness in a murder-for-hire trial testified Wednesday that zookeeper Joe Exotic paid him $3,000 in cash in 2017 to kill the operator of a Florida animal sanctuary.

"I said I'd cut her head off," the witness, ex-convict Allen Glover, 51, said. "He was fine with it."

He told jurors he never intended to go through with the plot, Instead, he said, he planned to take the money "and run."

The 56-year-old defendant, whose full name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, is on trial in Oklahoma City federal court. He is accused of twice plotting to kill his chief critic, Carole Baskin, the CEO of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa. He claims he was framed the first time and not serious the second.

He feuded with Baskin for years, both because she is an outspoken opponent of tiger cub handling and because her sanctuary successfully sued him for more than $1 million for trademark infringement.

Glover told jurors Joe Exotic talked every day at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park about having Baskin murdered or murdering her himself.

"It was crazy," said Glover, who was hired to work at the animal park by the new owner, Jeff Lowe.

Glover said Joe Exotic, who founded the private zoo in 1999, was still in charge of everyday stuff there in 2017. Glover described the big cat breeder as a cruel person who treated the employees like dirt or slaves.

He said the defendant offered him $5,000 to kill Baskin, choosing him because he has a teardrop tattoo under his eye. He said he didn't say anything when he was paid only $3,000 in November 2017. "I didn't want to waste another minute there," he testified.

He said he returned to his home state of South Carolina. He said he drove a few weeks later to Florida to warn Baskin in person. He said he was drunk and high on cocaine and painkillers and never made it to see Baskin.

"I just found a beach and found some people to party with. I had some money," he said.

He told jurors the defendant instructed him to kill Baskin along a walking path, paid for a fake Arizona ID from a shop in Dallas and gave him one of the park's cellphones. He said the defendant took a picture of an online photo of Baskin and saved it on the cellphone "so I wouldn't kill the wrong person."

He said the defendant sold a liliger cub for cash to pay him. A liliger is a hybrid cat.

Jurors Wednesday also heard from a tiger owner who became a government informant and secretly recorded conversations with the defendant, Lowe and Glover in 2017.

In one recording played for jurors, Joe Exotic said he was going to send Glover's cellphone to Lowe in Las Vegas for an alibi.

"Jeff is gonna text pics ever once in a while back to the staff so that his phone registers in Vegas," he told the informant, James Garretson of Ringling. "As long as he don't get caught red-handed, I think we got this.

"But if they bust him red-handed, me and Jeff are just, we got our story down to where we fired the ... (expletive) and he just went off the deep end."

Nolan Clay

Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,... Read more ›

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