Actor Jussie Smollett returned to a Cook County courtroom with his legal team in Chicago today, Wednesday (July 14), to proclaim his innocence on renewed charges over his alleged staging of a 2019 hate crime.
On his way into court, Smollett insisted he was innocent and called the proceedings a 'dog and pony show", according to a statement take by Fox News.
The former "Empire" actor was charged with six counts of felony misconduct for allegedly lying to police about a racist, homophobic attack he claims was perpetrated against him. The hearing will determine whether or not one of the actor’s attorneys has a conflict of interest and can stay on to represent him.
According to reports, Smollett, 39, told police at the time of the alleged attack that two masked men attacked him as he was walking home in the early hours of Jan. 29, 2019. He said they made racist and homophobic insults, beat him and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing, and that at least one of his attackers was a White man who told him he was in "MAGA country," a reference to former President Trump’s campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."
The two brothers, Abel and Ola Osundario, who are believed to have been paid $3,500 by Smollett to carry out what police called a fake attack, attended today's hearing as well.
According to WGN9, the judge wants to find out how much contact the Osundario brothers had with one of the actor’s attorneys prior to signing on with him. The brothers say they spoke at length about the case to attorney Nenye Uche, who now represents Smollett. Uche denies having that conversation with them.
The prosecution is expected to argue that Uche should be barred from representing Smollett because he held discussions with two of Smollett’s alleged accomplices early on in the case.