A juror in the Jussie Smollett trial has explained several reasons why the jury felt there was no way they could acquit the star actor in his bombshell trial for staging a fake hate crime attack on himself.
The female juror, who declined to be named, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the jury of six women and six men didn’t have any major disagreements but they took nine hours to deliberate because they wanted to properly consider all the evidence.
Some doubted that prosecutors had proven their case beyond reasonable doubt when deliberations began, she said. But those people just wanted more time to look over all the evidence again.
“It was not evenly split, but there were some doubters,” she said.
Smollett was found guilty on Thursday evening of five of six counts of disorderly conduct related to filing a false police report about a battery and a false police report about a hate crime in January 2019. He was found not guilty of one count related to telling a detective two weeks later that he was the victim of an aggravated battery.
Smollett—an openly gay, Black actor who for nearly three years denied accusations that he hired two brothers as assailants in the alleged attack—testified on his own behalf during the one-week trial.
But the juror said they felt his answers didn’t have credible reasoning, especially when there was zero evidence to back up his story.
Smollett’s creative director Frank Gatson, who initially called police in 2019, was included on a list of witnesses to testify but was never called.
“We all wanted to hear from Frank,” the juror said.
Ultimately, the juror said they found testimony from the brothers hired to attack Smollett to be more convincing. Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo gave damning testimony that Smollett had paid them to carry out the task of roughing him up and slipping a noose around his neck after dousing him in bleach. They also claimed that Smollett had walked them through a “dry run” days before.
Rubbing salt in the wound, the juror said Smollett’s defense attorney Nenye Uche seemed to be “just shooting from the hip” with her approach to the trial. She threw out unsubstantiated claims that didn’t sit well with the juror, like a claim that the Osundairo brothers wanted a $2 million payout from Smollett to change their story.
In contrast, prosecutor Dan Webb had a “methodical, plodding” style that made his argument seem water-tight, the juror said.
Uche said she would be appealing due to the jury’s “inconsistent’ verdict. “You cannot say Jussie is not lying for the same exact incident,” she said in a statement.
But the juror explained why they only delivered guilty verdict on four or five charges.
“We were told it was an aggravated battery because [Smollett] said they were wearing a mask,” the juror said. But “in all [of Smollett’s] accounts of what happened, he mentioned a mask.”
She added: “I just hope that [Smollett and his attorneys] know that we went in there with an open mind. I listened to both sides. We wanted to make sure that those who had doubts didn’t feel pressured.”