In January 2019, Jussie Smollett called 911 and said that he had been attacked in the early hours of the morning. This was in Chicago, and Smollett claimed two white men, men wearing ski masks, jumped him on the street, put a noose around his neck and told him “This is MAGA country.” The story grew more vivid and horrifying with each retelling, but Chicago police were always suspicious of Smollett’s tale. Within days, the Chicago PD was investigating Smollett for filing a false police report and wasting their time. Soon, police spoke to Abimbola Osundairo and Olabinjo Osundairo, who said that Smollett hired them to stage the assault. What followed was a full year of legal insanity. First, Smollett was charged with 16 felonies, then just as suddenly, the charges went away. Then a new prosecution team took over the case and charged Smollett with six counts of filing a false report and felony disorderly conduct. The trial seemed insane, with Smollett testifying on his own behalf and likely perjuring himself in a dozen ways. Predictably, the Chicago jury found him guilty on five out of the six counts on the indictment:
A jury in Chicago found the actor Jussie Smollett guilty on Thursday of falsely reporting to the police that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic assault in 2019, an attack that investigators concluded was a hoax directed by the actor himself. With its finding, after more than nine hours of deliberation, the 12-person jury indicated it had chosen to believe the accounts of two brothers who testified that Mr. Smollett had asked them to mildly injure him as part of a publicity stunt. Mr. Smollett, wearing a dark gray suit and a blue shirt, sat upright in his chair, hands clasped, staring directly at the jury just after the verdict was read.
Daniel K. Webb, the special prosecutor who handled the case, said afterward that Mr. Smollett only made matters worse by continuing to stand by his account at trial.
“This jury worked so hard,” Mr. Webb said, “and for Mr. Smollett to come up before them and lie for hours and hours and hours — that really compounded his misconduct.”
The case was revived by Mr. Webb, who reviewed that decision and ultimately announced that a grand jury had charged Mr. Smollett with six counts of felony disorderly conduct. Mr. Smollett was convicted on five counts on Thursday, relating to conversations he had with the police just after the attack. He was acquitted on the sixth count, which related to a follow-up conversation with an investigator two weeks later.
The actor faces up to three years in prison. The judge did not set a sentencing date and released him on bond. His defense team said Mr. Smollett would appeal.
[From The New York Times]
Will he see a day in prison? I don’t know. Probably, but I doubt it will be three years. If the prosecution’s case was correct, then Smollett has huge issues. I say that as someone who made excuses for him in the beginning. The gleeful way people went after him – when there’s clearly some significant mental health issues at play – left me cold. It’s just a sad story and it’s sad it had to come to this.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Avalon Red.
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