CHICAGO (AFP) – Jussie Smollett was ordered released Wednesday by an appeals court that agreed with his attorney that he should be free to await an appeal against his conviction For lying to the Chicago police about a racist and homophobic attack.
The decision came after a Cook County judge ruled against Smollett Last week he would immediately begin serving 150 days in prison for being convicted of five counts of disorderly conduct offenses for lying to the police. His lawyers planned to hold a press conference on his release date on Wednesday evening.
On the spree right after the sentencing, the former star of the TV show “Empire” proclaimed his innocence and said “I’m not a suicide. And if anything happens to me when I go there, I don’t do it myself. And you all should know it.”
The Court of Appeals, in its 2-1 decision, said Smollett could be released after making a personal pledge of $150,000, meaning he does not have to deposit the money but agrees to appear in court as required.
Smollett’s attorneys argued that he would have completed his sentence by the time his appeals process was completed and that Smollett might be at risk of physical harm if he remained in custody in the Cook County Jail.
The Special Prosecutor’s Office called the allegation that Smollett’s health and safety were at risk “factually incorrect,” in response to the request, noting that Smollett was being held in protective custody. in prison. After he began serving his sentence last week, the Cook County sheriff’s office said Smollett was being held in his cell, monitored by CCTV and an officer.
Deputy Special Prosecutor Sean Webber also questioned the idea of Smollett’s release because his sentence would be complete before the appeals court’s ruling, saying that under that reasoning, anyone facing a sentence shorter than a few years would be able to remain free.
Weber wrote: “This is simply not the norm, and it cannot be.”
The court’s decision marks the latest chapter in a bizarre story that began in January 2019 when Smollett, who is black and gay, told Chicago police that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men wearing ski masks. He stated that the men assaulted him while he was walking near his home in downtown Chicago to get something to eat. One of the men, Smollett said, put a noose around his neck.
The hunt for the attackers soon turned into an investigation and arrest of Smollett himself, accused of having orchestrated the attack and lied to the police about it.
The investigation revealed that Smollett had paid two men he knew from his job at The Empire to launch the attack.
A jury convicted Smollett in December of five counts of disorderly conduct – the charge brought when someone lies to the police. He was acquitted of the sixth count.
Judge James Lane sentenced Smollett last week to 150 days in prison, but with good behaviour, he could have been released in as little as 75 days. Smollett maintained his innocence during the trial.
Court of Appeals judges Thomas Hoffman and Joey Cunningham signed the order granting Smollett’s request for release, which indicated he had been convicted of nonviolent crimes. Judge Maureen Connors disagreed.
Check out the full Associated Press coverage In the case of Josie Smollett.