Jurors in the Jussie Smollett trial felt they were giving the former Empire star “a favor” for convicting him of five counts of disorderly conduct but not a sixth, according to one of the jurors. However, they found Smollett’s testimony lacking believable answers.
“We all thought we were doing Jussie a favor,” the juror told the Chicago Sun-Times.
All charges, felonies, were related to Smollett claiming to police that he was the victim of a hate crime in Chicago in January 2019. Police and prosecutors said the claims were false.
The sixth count charged Smollett, 39, with lying to police during an interview with detectives on February 14, 2019, after he had reported that he had been attacked. The five counts the Cook County jury found him guilty on last week were for reporting a battery and for reporting a hate crime to other officers.
The jurors decided not guilty on the sixth charge because they questioned why it was charged differently than the others, according to the paper. The sixth charge was lying to police about being a victim of an aggravated battery.
“We were told it was an aggravated battery because he said [the attackers] were wearing a mask,” the juror said. But “in all [of Smollett’s] accounts of what happened, he mentioned a mask.”
If all the charges were the same, the juror said, “I think we probably would have found him guilty” of the sixth.
The juror said the prosecution’s case was more convincing than Smollett’s. She told the Sun-Times that jurors were not presented witnesses that corroborated the actor’s side.
In the end, she said that the jury found the testimonies of brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo credible, and more so than Smollett’s. The brothers said Smollett paid them to stage the attack. However, she noted that the jury didn’t believe either was completely honest.
Their testimony, though, had the police to back it up. Smollett relied on character witnesses who were not able to discuss the facts of the case.
She said the prosecution's closing arguments made it seem as if they had weaved a “seamless” case.
The juror added that they didn’t know what the sentencing for Smollett would be.
“It wasn’t an easy decision. You’ve got the mother sitting there. You feel bad. We didn’t know what the penalty would be. Are we sending this guy to jail?” she said.
She added that she would like to see Smollett get probation, which the Sun-Times reports seems likely given that the actor had no previous criminal history.
Now other suits can proceed, which were previously on hold until the completion of Smollett’s trial. The city of Chicago still plans to pursue a civil suit against Smollett, and the Osundairo brothers are suing Smollett’s attorneys.
“The City intends to continue to pursue its lawsuit to hold Smollett accountable for his unlawful actions and to demand that he compensate the City for costs incurred by the Chicago Police Department which took his false claims of harm seriously,” a statement from the city read, reported the Associated Press.
The suit is seeking reimbursement from Smollett for more than $130,000 the city spent investigating the alleged hate crime.
In April 2019, the Osundairo brothers filed a suit against Smollett’s attorneys for defamation and were seeking damages. They say the lawyers destroyed their personal and professional reputations after accusing them of the homophobic, racist attack on Smollett.