Defense attorney claims that the verdict was inconsistent, and the team is going to appeal.
Actor Jussie Smollett has been found guilty of felony disorderly conduct for reportedly staging a fake hate crime nearly three years ago. A jury of six men and six women found the actor guilty on five of six felony counts against him on December 9, 2021, after about nine hours of deliberation, reveals CNN. He was acquitted on one count of giving a false report to police at a later date. The 39-year-old actor now faces up to three years in prison.
Smollett, who was dressed in a suit and tie, did not move during the session and kept gazing straight ahead. He put his hands on the table, with his fingers interlaced, and didn't look at his family or the judge, instead kept focusing in the direction of the jury.
Prosecutors said the former Empire star, who is also a gay person, told the cops he was attacked by two assailants who shouted racist and homophobic slurs, yelled a Trump slogan, dumped a "chemical substance" on him, and tied a noose around his neck while he was walking late at night in Chicago, according to BBC.
BREAKING: Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was convicted on charges that he staged an anti-gay, racist attack on himself nearly three years ago and then lied to Chicago police about it. https://t.co/SV5vBq1pGq— The Associated Press (@AP) December 9, 2021
The verdict was announced just days after Smollett took the witness stand to tell the jury, "there was no hoax," adds NPR.
What really helped the jurors come to the conclusion was the testimony of two brothers who told jurors that Smollett hired them to carry out the attack in January of 2019, saying the actor paid them $3,500 and gave them $100 for expenses. Smollett did admit to writing a cheque for the exact amount, but the money was reportedly to pay for nutrition and training, not to stage a crime.
Prosecutors went on to reveal that Smollett made up the incident just because he wanted to gain some popularity. Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, the two bodybuilding brothers who said Smollett hired them, also added that they believed the actor and musician would use the incident to get media attention, instead of filing an alleged hate crime with the police.
But when special prosecutor Dan Webb asked Smollett repeatedly about a "hoax" attack, each time he denied that was the case. "There was no hoax on my part," he said. "Any question you're going to ask about that is going to be denied."
Dan Webb said at a news conference that he was proud of the jury. "Mr. Smollett would not have lost this case as he did today unless the jury found that he lied to them," he said. "The fact that he came up with a completely ridiculous story to explain his misconduct did not apparently have an impact on the jury's verdict."
BREAKING: Actor Jussie Smollett is found guilty of staging a hate crime against himself in what prosecutors said was a bid to gain sympathy and bolster his career https://t.co/XdBpitC9hm pic.twitter.com/y7ZZdCW99D— Reuters (@Reuters) December 9, 2021
Webb then said he couldn't predict whether follow-up perjury charges would be filed against Smollett for his trial testimony, but revealed that people who are convicted of a crime are not normally charged with perjury.
However, defense attorney, Nenye Uche said the verdict was inconsistent, adding that the jury cannot find Smollett lied in five instances but did not in the sixth. He added that the defense team will appeal. "You cannot say Jussie is lying and Jussie is not lying for the same exact incident. So we feel 100% confident that this case will be won on appeal," Uche said.
"It's pretty disappointing, what happened," he told reporters at the courthouse. "But we remain confident that we're gonna come back and he's going to be vindicated."
The next court date is set for January 27 for post-trial motions.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo