A juror who sat on the case of actor Jussie Smollett told the Chicago Sun-Times that the she felt the jury was doing Smollett a “favor” by finding him not guilty on one out of the six counts of disorderly conduct related to a 2019 hate crime hoax.
The jury was confused on what specifically was being asked to find Smollett guilty on the sixth count of disorderly conduct, explained the juror, who has remained anonymous. So, they did not find 39-year-old guilty on the count, which the juror said felt like a “favor to Jussie,” the Sun-Times reported Friday:
The jury in Jussie Smollett’s trial felt they were doing him “a favor” when they convicted the former “Empire” actor on five counts of disorderly conduct, but not a sixth, one of the jurors told the Sun-Times Friday.
The decision was one the jury struggled with, the juror said.
In the end, “we all thought we were doing Jussie a favor,” said the juror, who asked not to be named.
“We were told it was an aggravated battery because he said they were wearing a mask,” the juror explained, adding that “in all [of Smollett’s] accounts of what happened, he mentioned a mask.”
The Sun-Times reported that the juror noted that “if prosecutors had charged all the battery counts the same,” Smollett would have likely been found guilty on all six counts.
The juror noted during the interview that the jury was reluctant to quickly find Smollett guilty on all counts, noting the actor’s elderly mother in the courtroom and the possibility that Smollett could serve time in prison.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” she said. “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?”
“It was not evenly split, but there were some doubters,” the juror continued, adding, “I just hope that [Smollett and his legal team] know that we went in there with an open mind. I listened to both sides. We wanted to make sure that those who had doubts didn’t feel pressured.”
It appeared to the juror that Smollett’s defense attorney was “just shooting from the hip,” while prosecution seemed more convincing, she added.
Back in January 2019, Smollett claimed he was targeted and attacked by apparent supporters of then-President Donald Trump in an anti-gay, anti-black hate crime. His alleged attackers, whom he allegedly described as white males who yelled “This is MAGA country,” were brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo. Notably, the brothers are both black men who knew the “Empire” star before the incident and have claimed Smollett orchestrated the “hoax.”
A jury on Thursday found Smollett guilty on five counts of disorderly conduct related to the incident. He has not yet been sentenced, but is facing up to three years in prison on each count, NBC Chicago reported.