A juror sitting in the case of actress Jussie Smollett told ABC 7 Chicago that he was “sad” about the case and still puzzled over the actor’s motives, citing the 39-year-old’s career.
Andre Hope, 63, the only juror who was black, “said he was unhappy” with Smollett’s conviction on five counts of disorderly conduct, the report said, adding: “He described the entire case as ‘sad’ and said while the evidence against the actor was overwhelming, And he still has one unanswered question.”
“I still don’t know what motivated him to do this, why this happened,” Hope told the outlet. “He was a star.”
“I was shocked,” he said of his choice of jury. “I was absolutely shocked because I was even selected. At that point, I took it very seriously.”
Although he is confused by Smollett’s motive, Hope said the actor’s claims add nothing.
“Two in the morning. It’s cold outside. When you use your common sense as it exists, yes, that’s just, it wasn’t gross,” the juror explained.
The report detailed: “He also said that the gallows, which was used in the orchestrated attack, was significant evidence.” After he wore the rope home, Smollett claimed he took it off and then put it on for the police to see.
“As an African-American person, I’m not ever putting on the gallows again,” Hope emphasized.
Hope said the jury was professional but refused that he was the only black person chosen. “Because how can we say this is a jury of your peers when there is only one African American?” He said. “And there was a lot there, so you could have two, three four. African Americans can handle the truth too. And we can make an honest judgment on any issue.”
Another juror, a woman who asked not to be identified, said Friday that the jury was at a loss as to what specifically was sought to convict Smollett on the sixth count of disorderly conduct and therefore did not find him guilty, which the juror said he felt. “Service to Josie,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported:
The jury at 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, a juror told the Sun Times Friday.
The juror said the decision was one of the hardships for the jury.
In the end, the juror, who asked not to be named, said, “We all thought we were doing Josie a favor.”
“We were told it was an aggravating battery because he said they were wearing a mask,” the jury member explained, adding that “in general, [of Smollett’s] Narratives of what happened, he mentioned a mask. ”
The Sun Times reported that the juror noted that “if prosecutors had charged all battery counts in the same way,” Smollett would likely have pleaded guilty to all six counts.
During the interview, the juror said that the jury was reluctant to quickly find Smollett guilty on all charges, citing the actor’s elderly mother in the courtroom and the possibility that Smollett would spend time in prison.
“It was not an easy decision,” she said. “You have the mother sitting there. You feel bad. We didn’t know what the penalty was. Shall we send this guy to prison?”
“It wasn’t divided evenly, but there were some skeptics,” continued the juror, adding, “I just hope that [Smollett and his legal team] I know we went there with an open mind. I have listened to both sides. We wanted to make sure that those who had doubts don’t feel pressured.”
In January 2019, Smollett alleged that he was targeted and attacked by outspoken supporters of then-President Donald Trump in an anti-gay and black hate crime. His alleged assailants, allegedly described as white males who shouted “THIS IS MAGA country”, were brothers Abimbola and Olabingo Osondaero. Notably, the brothers are both black men who knew the “Empire” star prior to the accident and claimed that Smollett orchestrated the “hoax.”
A jury Thursday found Smollett guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct in connection with the incident. NBC Chicago reports that he has yet to be sentenced, but faces up to three years in prison on each count.
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