Jury selected in trial for former ‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett

Actor Jussie Smollett is shown in his booking photo on February 21, 2019, after his arrest earlier that morning. File Photo courtesy Chicago Police Department/UPI

Nov. 29 (UPI) — Jury selection was completed Monday in the Chicago trial of former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, nearly three years after he was charged with falsely claiming to be the victim of a hate crime.

A jury of 12, plus three alternates, were selected as Smollett’s trial on six counts of disorderly conduct opened in Cook County Circuit Court, WMAQ-TV and the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The selection was completed about six hours after Judge James Linn opened the proceedings. Opening statements began shortly afterwards.


Smollett, 39, was charged with lying to the Chicago police about being the victim of a racist, homophobic attack during the early hours of Jan. 29, 2019, stating that two men approached and attacked him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs.

But speculation that the attack was staged quickly grew when investigators doubted his claims.

Brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo who worked as extras on “Empire” said that Smollett paid them $3,500 to fake the attack. They are expected to be key witnesses against Smollett.

Smollett was criminally charged on 16 counts, but the charges were initially dropped in a controversial move by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office.

After a petition to reopen the case was granted, U.S. Attorney Dan Webb was appointed as a special prosecutor to reinvestigate Smollett’s allegations, as well as any possible wrongdoing by Foxx.

Arrested again

Smollett was arrested again a year later on six counts of disorderly conduct related to making false statements to police. Each charge carried a maximum sentence of three years. The actor could be given probation given his lack of criminal history.

Smollett requested to dismiss the charges but was declined by the Illinois Supreme Court in March.

Monday’s trial will not include testimony from Foxx. There won’t be cameras in the courtroom, nor will the proceeding be streamed live.

The actor’s character on the hit Fox television show was written off after the controversy.

The case is scheduled to continue Tuesday and is expected to conclude late this week or early next week.

Jussie Smollett arrives for the iHeartRadio Music Festival on September 24 2016 File Photo by James AtoaUPI


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