On Thursday, disgraced actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in Cook County jail, and 30 months of felony probation, as well as restitution of $120,106 and a $25,000 fine.
After receiving his sentence, Smollett broke out in shouts of "I am not suicidal. I am innocent"
"If I did this, that it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBTQ. Your Honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I did not do this and I am not suicidal. If anything happens to me when I go in there. I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that," Smollet said.
The defense took issue with the appointment of a special prosecutor prior to the sentencing and also had a stack of mitigations, including that the jury was not a jury of Smollett's Chicago peers, and that this could be surmised just by looking at them.
The defense addressed the court during the sentencing in regards to an 83-page post trial motion filed. They presented 13 "trial errors" that they felt "affected the verdict" and believed this justified a new trial.
Judge James Linn told the court, "I've never had a case that has been pled as exhaustively as this one. Voluminous writings, hundreds and hundreds of pages of filings asking for multiple motions to dismiss Jeopardy claims, motion to disqualify counsels, all of which are contained in the post trial motion."
He added, in response to complaints from the defense about not receiving a public trial, "We were in COVID. This was the first jury trial that this Court had and I am an active jury litigator and have been for years and years and years. This is the first trial I was able to have since COVID. And COVID was still happening. We were under all kinds of constraints. I was told that I could only have half capacity in the courtroom, including the jurors, including the deputies, including the lawyers."
"We've talked about this for two years," said Linn. "And I have made records both orally and in writing on each of these issues. Even some things that were not raised orally today. I'm going to stand by my findings and rulings. I do believe at the end of the day that Mr. Smollett received a fair trial, that he was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the jury based on the evidence that was presented, that there was nothing unconstitutional about these proceedings. His motion for post trial relief was respectfully denied."
The defense read a number letters, including those from Black Lives Matter and the NAACP, and called witnesses to the stand, including Smollett’s grandmother, and brother, requesting that the judge give Smollett a light sentence that doesn't include prison time, citing his community service efforts.
As Smollett arrived to the court building in Cook County Thursday afternoon, video showed body guards pushing journalists, including one that was knocked to the ground.
"Let me tell you Mr. Smollett, I know that there is nothing that I will do here today that can come close the damage you've already done to your own life. You've turned your life upside down here, misconduct and shenanigans. You've destroyed your life as you knew it. And there's nothing that any sentencing judge could do to you that can compare to the damage you've already caused yourself," Linn told Smollett shortly before the sentencing was handed down.
"He cares deeply about social justice issues, and for you now to sit here convicted of hoaxing hate crimes, racial hate crimes, and homophobic hate crimes, that hypocrisy is just astounding," Linn later added.
"There's some conjecture, you did it for the money," Linn said. "Frankly, I do not believe that you did it for the money. You were making, the evidence shows, close to $2 million a year when this happened? I don't think money motivated you at all."
"But the only thing I can find is that you really crave the attention, and you wanted to get the attention. And you were so invested in issues of social justice, and you knew that this was a sore spot for everybody in this country," he continued. "You knew this was a country that was slowly trying to heal past injustices and current injustices and trying to make a better future for each other and it was a hard road. And you took some scabs off and the healing wounds and rip them apart, for one reason you want to make yourself more famous in for a while, it worked."
"Everybody was talking about you, the lights are on you," Linn continued. "You were actually throwing a national pity party for yourself. Why would you do such thing? Why would you? I understand you crave the attention so much. But why would you be trade something like social justice issues which you cared so much about? The only thing I could conclude is that is, and I acknowledged there are wonderful sides to you. They're very giving and charitable and loving sides to you. But you have another side of you that is profoundly arrogant and selfish, selfish and narcissistic as the only thing that can be concluded, and that bad side of you came out during the course of all these events."
Linn later talked about premeditation as it pertained to this case.
"There are crimes of premeditation, Mr. Smollett, and that's what you're all about here," said Linn.
Linn said that Smollet chose a location, time, props and more to conduct the hoax, doing rehearsals as well.
"This was premeditated ,premeditated the extreme and I find that your extreme premeditation this case is an aggravating factor," said Linn.
Linn continued on to summarize the case in order of events.
"And then you start to lie and you haven't stopped lying ever since," Linn said, in regards to Smollett lying to the officers that responded first to his call. "You've been lying and lying and lying about this case, and that's why you're here today. You want to fake the incident down the street. Try to get some attention at work. Try to have somebody else feel sorry for you. That would never have got you here. The problem was you lied to the police and you caused all kinds of consternation, you caused a major investigation to take place, which got many people involved and cause great stress throughout the city and throughout the entire community here and that's the problem. That's why you're here now. Those were the crimes you're convicted of. not the shenanigans out there but the lying about it, making it up, and that's why we're here now."
"What happened? Turns out that you're not a victim of a hate crime. You're not a victim of racial hate crime. You're not a victim of a homophobic hate crime. You're just a charlatan, pretending to be a victim of a hate crime," Linn later said.
"Your very name has become an adverb for lying. And I cannot imagine what could be worse than that. People talk about situations where somebody is lying and trying to manipulate and maneuver his story and your name comes up. So pulling a Jussie, something like that. that's awful," said Linn.
In December, Smollett was found guilty of lying to the police in relation to a staged hate hoax that occurred in 2019.
The former Empire star guilty on five of six counts of class four felony disorderly conduct. He was found not guilty on count six, which referred to Smollett reporting on February 14, 2019 to detective Robert Graves that he’d been a victim of an aggravated battery.
Smollett claimed that he had been attacked by MAGA hat-wearing white men in the streets of Chicago, where he said they poured bleach on him, used a rope fashioned into a noose, and hurled racist and homophobic insults at him.
Police were able to discover the identity of his alleged attackers by tracking information on who ordered the Uber that dropped them off.
Brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo were identified as suspects, and were arrested when they returned from a trip to Nigeria.
It was discovered that Smollett had paid the brothers to stage the attack, with Chicago detective Michael Theis testifying that they were hired after Empire producers didn't take a threatening letter sent to Smollett seriously enough.
"He explained he wanted me to fake beat him up," Abimbola said on the stand.
The 39-year-old star allegedly paid the two brothers $3,500 to attack him in the street, with one of the brothers previously working with Smollett on the set of Empire.
Surveillance footage captured Smollett and the two brothers reportedly going on a dry run of the attack days before it was supposed to take place.
Following the guilty verdict, the city of Chicago announced that they would be suing the disgraced star for the thousands of hours spent investigating the case. The lawsuit amounts to $130,106.
"The City filed a civil lawsuit against Jussie Smollett to recover costs incurred by the Chicago Police Department investigating what the City believed to be Smollett's false police reports that he was a victim of a hate crime," a statement from the city said.
Reading a victim impact statement presented by the defense on behalf of the City of Chicago and Superintendent Brown of the Chicago Police Department, "while the city can address the financial costs of Mr. Smallett's false report and the investigation that ensued, a cost that can never be measured is the harm caused by reducing the likelihood of actual victims of hate crimes willing to report these crimes."
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