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.
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 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.
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.