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Jury selection is underway for the Jussie Smollett trial, and whoever is chosen will soon determine whether the actor staged a now-notorious hate crime attack.
The former “Empire” star claimed in 2019 that two masked assailants assaulted him, hurling racial and homophobic slurs before pouring an unknown liquid over him and wrapping a noose around his neck. But just weeks after he filed the police report, law enforcement alleged that Smollett had paid brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo to attack him in an effort to help his career. In turn, Smollett has been indicted on six counts of disorderly conduct for “making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime,” according to a statement from the special prosecutor’s office obtained by Oxygen.com last year.
Smollett's trial has been delayed for the past two-and-a-half years due to both COVID and complications in the case; charges against him were dropped at one point before being refiled again. On Monday though, Cook County Judge James Linn made it clear that proceedings are very much underway and could the trial could officially begin as early as next week, WGN 9 in Chicago reports. Jury selection began Monday with a pool of 50 potential jurors.
Smollett, who is both Black and openly gay, still maintains that he was the victim of both a racist and homophobic assault. The Osundairo brothers, who maintain that the actor paid them $3,500 to fake-attack him, will be testifying against him at the upcoming trial, the Associated Press reports. They are expected to be at the center of the trial.
Smollett’s charges were dropped in 2019 and he reportedly agreed to community service and his record was wiped clean, according to Fox32 in Chicago. He was then recharged, a decision that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx called political in nature last year.
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