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Months after hate crime hoax guilty verdict, Jussie Smollett calls for new trial

Lily Wakefield February 27, 2022
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Jussie Smollett arrives in court

Jussie Smollett was found guilty by a jury of staging a hate crime against himself. (Getty/ Scott Olson)

Jussie Smollett, convicted last year of staging a hate crime against himself, is requesting a new trial.

The former Empire actor said he was the victim of a hate crime in 2019, claiming that two men shouted homophobic, racist slurs, beat him and looped a makeshift noose around his neck.

While police initially investigated Smollett’s story as genuine, evidence surfaced  that Smollett had paid brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, brothers who had worked with him on Empire as extras, to carry out the hoax.

In December, 2021, after a jury had deliberated for more than nine hours, Smollett was found guilty of five charges of disorderly conduct. was found guilty of five charges of disorderly conduct. 

The gay actor is set to be sentenced on 10 March, 2022, but Smollett has now demanded a new trial, claiming that his constitutional rights were violated in the first.

Smollett and legal representation have filed an 83-page document insisting that there had been “numerous trial errors”, and that his attorneys were not allowed to ask jurors enough questions to rule out “questionable impartiality”.

The document, seen by NBC News, highlights one juror who told the court that she had family members in law enforcement. Smollett’s attorneys say the court should have enquired further or allowed them to do so.

Smollett also claims that prosecutors’ evidence was “insufficient and inconsistent so that no reasonable trier of fact could have found Mr Smollett guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and thus there is evidence that the jury verdict was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence”.

His attorneys added: “As such, the defendant now respectfully requests that his convictions be vacated or in the alternative, that the court grant the defendant a new trial.”

Jussie Smollett has maintained his innocence throughout a three-year legal battle

Throughout his entire legal battle, Jussie Smollett has maintained his innocence, and insisted that he was in fact the victim of a hate crime.

Following his guilty verdict in December, his defence attorney Nenye Uche told reporters that the jury’s verdict was “inconsistent”.

He added: “We feel 100 per cent confident that this case will be won on appeal. Unfortunately, that’s not a route we wanted, but sometimes that’s the route you have to take to win.”

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