Chicago, IL – The only black juror on the panel that found Jussie Smollett guilty of staging the fake hate attack on himself has gone public to explain why he voted the way he did.
A Cook County jury found Smollett guilty of lying to police in five of the six disorderly conduct charges against him on Dec. 9, CNN reported.
The sixth count was a charge for lying to a detective weeks after Smollett initially reported the attack to police, FOX News reported.
Andre Hope told WLS that the evidence against the former “Empire” star was overwhelming.
Hope is married and has two sons close in age to the 39-year-old Smollett.
The juror said that Smollett’s attempt to claim at trial that the Osundairo brothers had attacked him for real didn’t make sense, WLS reported.
“Two o’clock in the morning. Cold outside. When you just use your common sense as what’s there, yeah it just, it didn’t add up,” Hope explained.
He also said the noose that was allegedly used in the attack played a big role in his decision, WLS reported.
Smollett claimed he wore the rope home and then took it off.
Then he put it on to demonstrate the attack to police, WLS reported.
“As an African American person, I’m not putting that noose back on at all,” Hope said.
Hope called the case “sad” and said the one thing he didn’t learn during the trial was why Smollett had faked the attack on himself, WLS reported.
“I still have not figured out a motive for why he did, why this had to even happen,” he said. “He was a star.”
The 63-year-old juror, a retired employee of the Cook County Forest Preserves, said he didn’t know much about Smollett and had never seen “Empire” when he was picked to serve on the jury, WLS reported.
Hope said the jury members didn’t argue with each other and were never deadlocked.
He said it took them almost 10 hours because they were thorough, WLS reported.
Hope said good things about fellow jurors but expressed disappointment that he was the only black person on the jury.
“Because how can we say that this is a jury of your peers when there’s only one African American?” he asked. “And there were plenty there, so you could’ve gotten two, three four. African Americans can handle the truth, too. And we can give an impartial judgement on a case.”
Hope told WLS that he didn’t think Smollett deserved prison time for his crimes and hoped the actor would get a second chance in Hollywood.
The whole saga began when Smollett told police on Jan. 29, 2019 that he had been attacked by two white supporters of President Donald Trump on his way home from a Subway restaurant.
He claimed the men called him homophobic and anti-black slurs and told him “This is MAGA country” as they beat him up and put a noose around his neck. He also said they threw a chemical on him.
Then-Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a press conference the day of Smollett’s arrest that that police considered the actor a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned from Nigeria to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
“We gave him the benefit of the doubt up until that 47th hour. But when we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” he explained.
He said the brothers told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, with another $500 after they returned from a planned trip to Nigeria.
“We have the check that he used to pay them,” Superintendent Johnson said.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office announced on March 8, 2019 that Smollett had been indicted by a grand jury on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.
But then on March 26, 2019, the State’s Attorney’s Office unceremoniously announced all charges against the “Empire” actor had been dropped.
The city of Chicago has since sued Smollett for the cost of the overtime the police department incurred while investigating the hoax and that lawsuit is ongoing.
Smollett counter-sued for malicious prosecution; however, that case is unlikely to go far given the guilty verdict.
But despite that legal wrangling over dollars and cents, Smollett wasn’t in the clear.
Cook County Judge Michael Toomin in June of 2019 appointed a special counsel to investigate what actually happened after information about Smollett hiding evidence and the involvement of Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, in the case.
Toomin gave the special prosecutor a broad mandate to investigate what had happened with the case from beginning to end and what all parties involved had done.
Webb indicted Smollett on new charges on Feb. 11, 2020.