Smollett After His Sentencing: 'I Am Innocent!'

Former 'Empire' actor gets 150 days, says he's not suicidal in case something happens in jail
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 10, 2022 4:40 PM CST
Updated Mar 10, 2022 8:21 PM CST
Judge Rejects Dismissing Smollett Verdict
Former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court House flanked by family members on Thursday in Chicago.   (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune via AP)

(Update: This summary has been updated throughout.) Jussie Smollett loudly maintained his innocence Thursday after a judge sentenced the former Empire actor to 150 days in jail for lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack that he was convicted of orchestrating himself. Cook County Judge James Linn ordered that Smollett's county jail sentence begin immediately following the hearing, per the AP. Smollett didn't make a statement when offered the opportunity earlier in the afternoon but maintained that he was innocent after Linn issued his sentencing decision. He also insisted that he was not suicidal, suggesting that “if anything happens” in jail, he did not take his own life.

“If I did this, then it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBT community," Smollett said, standing up at the defense table as his lawyers and sheriff's deputies surrounded him. “Your Honor, I respect you and I respect the jury but I did not do this. And I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.” As deputies led him from the courtroom, Smollett shouted out again. “I am innocent," he yelled, raising his first. “I could have said I am guilty a long time ago.”

The judge also sentenced Smollett to 30 months of felony probation and ordered that he pay $120,106 in restitution to the city of Chicago and a $25,000 fine. Smollett's dramatic reaction capped an hourslong sentencing hearing. Special prosecutor Dan Webb asked Linn to include “an appropriate amount of prison time” when sentencing the actor for his conviction. Smollett's attorneys asked the judge to limit the sentence to community service, arguing that he had already been punished by the criminal justice system and damage to his career. Family members echoed those comments. “I ask you, judge, not to send him to prison,” his grandmother, 92-year-old Molly Smollett, told the court. She later added, “If you do, send me along with him, OK?” (More Jussie Smollett stories.)

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