A jury found ex-"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett guilty Thursday of five of six counts of felony disorderly conduct in Chicago after a one-week trial.
In the courtroom as the verdict was read, Smollett stood and faced the jury, showing no visible reaction.
The 39-year-old was found guilty on five counts of disorderly conduct — one count for each separate time he was charged with lying to police in the days immediately after the alleged attack. He was acquitted on a sixth count, of lying to a detective in mid-February, weeks after Smollett said he was attacked.
Smollett was released Thursday and Judge James Linn set a post-trial hearing for Jan. 27. He said he would schedule Smollett's sentencing at a later date.
Disorderly conduct is a class 4 felony that carries a sentence of up to three years in prison, but experts say he likely will be placed on probation and perhaps ordered to perform community service.
After the verdict was read, Smollett's attorney, Nenye Uche, said Smollett would appeal the conviction. Uche told reporters Smollett is “100% innocent.” He said Smollett’s team is confident “he’s going to be cleared of all, all accusations on all charges.”
“Unfortunately we were facing an uphill battle where Jussie was already tried and convicted in the media and then we had to somehow get the jury to forget or unsee all the news stories that they had been hearing that were negative for the last three years,” Uche said.
Outside court, special prosecutor Dan Webb called the verdict “a resounding message by the jury that Mr. Smollett did exactly what we said he did.”
Smollett "wreaked havoc here in the city for weeks on end for no reason whatsoever," then compounded the problem by lying under oath to the jury, Webb said.
“A lot of times people say, ‘Well, police officers sweep things under the rug.’ This police department responded by absolutely testifying in this trial that they took it seriously," Webb said. "They believed he was a victim of a crime and they worked so hard for the next three weeks.”
The damage to Smollett's personal and professional life has already been severe. Smollett lost his role on the TV program “Empire” after prosecutors said the alleged attack was a hoax, and he told jurors earlier this week that “I’ve lost my livelihood.”
Gloria Rodriguez, the attorney for the Osundairo brothers, said her clients “could not be more thrilled and pleased with the results."
Chicago police “got this one right,” Rodriguez said.
The actor's trial began Nov. 29, nearly three years after Smollett reported to police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.
Jurors resumed deliberations Thursday morning after having the case for about two hours on Wednesday, when they also asked Judge James Linn for a copy of a calendar prosecutors displayed at trial. It indicated relevant dates, including that of the alleged attack and of what two brothers testified was a “dry run” for the Jan. 29, 2019, assault.
The jury had not asked any additional questions as of Thursday afternoon.
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