3:11 PM PT -- Here's Joe Exotic reacting to the possibility of being a free man sooner than expected ... and you can hear the optimism in his voice.
Law Offices of Phillips & Hunt
TMZ has obtained video of Joe calling his lawyer, John M. Phillips, and you can tell Joe is feeling good about his vacated 22-year sentence.
Joe says he's confident his lawyers will prove his innocence so he can finally go home ... and he's also got messages for President Biden and Carole Baskin.
Joe Exotic just caught a potential break, and while he's not walking out of prison today ... he might get out a little bit sooner.
The federal appeals court in the 'Tiger King' star's case just upheld his conviction for murder-for-hire, but there's a silver lining ... his 22-year sentence has been vacated, and he'll be resentenced.
According to legal docs obtained by TMZ ... the appeals court reviewed Joe's case and upheld the conviction, but determined the U.S. District Court for the Western District in Oklahoma City made a technical error by not grouping the 2 murder-for-hire convictions at his sentencing.
So, Exotic's original sentence will be tossed, and the case is getting sent back to the lower court ... where he'll likely receive a shorter sentence now.
That's the good news, but ... even after the grouping error is corrected, he's looking at a sentence in the range of 17-21 years. Joe was convicted of murder-for-hire after all.
Still, Joe's legal team is celebrating the W. His appellate lawyer, Brandon Sample, tells us he's pleased with the appellate court’s decision. He says, "I knew when I agreed to represent Joe that an appeal would be difficult, but I also knew that the law was on Joe's side."
Sample adds, "I am optimistic that the decision today is but one of many more victories to come for Joe—and his eventual freedom."