UPDATE and trial timeline at end of story.
I swore I would never do another Jussie Smollett story. But he’s baaaack.
If it is true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity then Jussie is getting a nice long run on his alleged prank that lead police on an expensive wild goose chase nearly three years ago. Now back in the headlines, Smollett is about to stand trial, accused of staging a hate crime against himself.
It all began in the early morning hours of Jan. 29, 2019, in downtown Chicago, when Smollett claimed that on his way home from a Subway sandwich shop in the Streeterville section of Chicago he was allegedly assaulted by two men wearing ski masks, yelling racial and homophobic slurs, while tying a noose around his neck and dousing him with a chemical substance which was at first believed to be bleach.
Smollett received massive national support for about three weeks, and then people began to speculate that he had staged the whole thing. Smollett went from victim to suspect, and was charged with giving a false report to the police.
Shortly before 9:30 a.m. today, Smollett arrived at the courtroom of Judge James Linn, wearing a dark suit and a dark mask, flanked by supporters as he entered.
Law enforcement and prosecutors claim he lied to police about what happened. He has been charged with felony disorderly conduct, a class 4 felony that carries a sentence of up to three years in prison.
Smollett has pleaded not guilty. Jury selection is scheduled to begin today. The trial is expected to last at least a week. Unlike many celebrity trials, the proceedings will not be livestreamed.
Key witnesses for the prosecution will be the brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who have appeared on Empire as extras, and claim that Smollett paid them to stage the attack. They are expected to characterize Smollett as the star and director of the attack and testify that Smollett rehearsed the scene beforehand at the spot where the incident was to play out.
The defense is expected to argue that the two brothers, working with at least one other person, attacked Smollett outright and then framed him to avoid being criminally charged themselves.
And no surprise, there will be more followups to this seemingly never-ending story.
UPDATE TO THIS STORY: (Because I really hope I never have to write another Jussie Smollett story)
- Monday, November 29: Twelve jurors plus three alternates were sworn in late Monday
- Tuesday, November 30: The trial begins
- Smollett’s lawyer claims he was ‘a real victim’ during opening statements.
- Smollett’s lawyers claim the actor was really attacked — by the two brothers.
- Detective testifies that they believed Smollett until the investigation proved it was staged.
- Smollett caught on surveillance video doing a “dry run” one day before his alleged hate crime attack
- Smollett testifies. He alleges that the Osundario brothers lied in thier claims that Smollett paid them $3,500 to participate in the attack.
- Tuesday, December 7: The defense rests.
- Thursday, December 9: After about 10 hours of deliberations, the jury finds Smollett guilty of five of six counts for filing a false police report related to the attack.
- Judge James Linn set a post-trial hearing for Jan. 27, and said he would schedule Smollett’s sentencing at a later date.
- Smollett’s defense attorney said Smollett was disappointed but “holding up very strong,” and is “committed to clearing his name.”
- Smollett’s defense attorney said Smollett would appeal the conviction and feels he would be cleared by an appellate court.