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Juror in Jussie Smollett trial admits jury agreed to do Smollett a 'favor' by finding him not guilty on one count

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One of the jurors who sat on Jussie Smollett's jury recently spoke out about deliberations in the trial, admitting the 12-person panel did Smollett a "favor" by finding him not guilty on one of the criminal charges against him.

Smollett was found guilty last week on five of six counts of felony disorderly conduct over the hate crime hoax that he staged in January 2019.

What did the juror say?

Speaking with the Chicago Sun-Times, the juror admitted that "we all thought we were doing Jussie a favor" by finding him not guilty on one of the charges.

That felony charge of disorderly conduct was related to a Feb. 14, 2019, interview between police and Smollett in which Smollett was accused of lying about being a victim of an "aggravated battery." The other five charges stemmed from Smollett lying about being the victim of a mere "battery." Thus, the jurors did not understand the difference in charges.

The juror told the Sun-Times, "I think we probably would have found him guilty" on the last charge had prosecutors levied the same accusation against Smollett regarding the Feb. 14 incident, that he lied about being the victim of a battery.

Any dissenters?

The juror additionally explained why the jury required nine hours to convict Smollett of crimes that seemed so obvious to others.

Not only did the jury use the deliberation time to carefully consider all the evidence and whether prosecutors presented their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the juror revealed that some on the jury had doubts when deliberations began.

"It was not evenly split, but there were some doubters," the juror said. "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.”

"It wasn’t an easy decision. You’ve got the mother sitting there. You feel bad. We didn’t know what the penalty would be. Are we sending this guy to jail?" the juror, a female, told the newspaper.

Is the verdict inconsistent?

Nenye Uche, lead attorney for Smollett's defense, characterized the verdict as inconsistent because the jury decided Smollett was guilty and not guilty of lying to police about the same incident.

“Jussie was not accused of doing two different things and he was accused of doing one thing, and charged multiple times for the same incident, a jury cannot come out and say guilty of lying, but not guilty of lying,” Uche said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

However, law professor Richard Kling disagreed, telling the Sun-Times the verdict reflects a nuanced decision in which the jury was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt on most charges, but not all.

"I think that’s a wonderful reflection on the jury," Kling said of the outcome. "This was not inconsistent. On five counts they found he was responsible, and the other one they were unsure."

Smollett faces three years in prison for each felony count — meaning he could be sentenced to prison for a maximum of 15 years under Illinois law — but legal experts believe he will not face any jail time because he lacks a previous criminal record, WMAQ-TV reported.

Editor's note: This story misstated professor Richard Kling's name on second reference. The story has since been corrected.

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