His attorney John M. Phillips confirmed the news in a statement to USA TODAY on Wednesday, along with a 45-second recording of a conversation with Exotic from prison.
“They diagnosed me last Wednesday with a very aggressive prostate cancer,” Exotic says in the recording, adding he doesn’t know what stage of cancer he has.
Phillips also provided a handwritten letter from Exotic, in which he writes: “Right now I dont (sic) want anyones (sic) pitty (sic) and I’m sure Carole (Baskin) will have her own party over this.”
Exotic is asking for compassionate release from prison, pleading in his letter for “the world to be my voice to be released.”
“There is no reason for the U.S. Attorney to drag this out so I can go home and get treatment on my own or enjoy what life I have left with my loved ones,” he wrote. “Say a prayer please.”
In his statement, lawyer Phillips said Exotic has been “undergoing medical treatment and tests for a host of issues.” After a blood test used to screen for prostate cancer came back “high,” Exotic obtained biopsies which revealed cancer, Phillips said.
“It is often said, ‘all we have is our health,’ ” Phillips continued in his statement. “The last few years has (sic) taken everything from Joe- his property, his freedom, his husband literally sold his clothes, his parents have passed away and now he faces cancer. Please keep Joe in your thoughts and prayers.”
Exotic was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison after being convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin. In July, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver found that the trial court wrongly treated those two convictions separately in calculating his prison term and that he should get a shorter prison sentence.
According to the ruling, the court should have sentenced Exotic, 58, to somewhere between 17 1/2 years and just under 22 years in prison, rather than between just under 22 years and 27 years in prison. The court ordered the trial court to re-sentence him.
Exotic, who has maintained his innocence, was also sentenced for killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife records.
His supporters were disappointed that former President Donald Trump failed to issue him a pardon before leaving office. They were so hopeful in his chances that they readied a celebratory limousine and a hair and wardrobe team to whisk him away from prison.
“Tiger King 2” will arrive on Netflix Nov. 17.
Contributing: Colleen Slevin, Associated Press