Culture

Jussie Smollett appears in court

Jussie Smollett appears in court”

The 36-year-old actor's lawyer, Tina Glandian, entered the plea Thursday on Smollett's behalf after Judge Steven Watkins was assigned to oversee the case, including the trial.

Smollett appeared in court in Chicago to answer the indictment, which a grand jury returned last Friday. Some of his relatives sat in the court's overflow gallery near a handful of fans, some wearing "Empire" shirts.

"As more evidence, such as text messages, phone records, social media records, bank records, surveillance video and the receipt from the purchase of the rope was obtained by investigators, the investigation shifted from a Hate Crime to a Disorderly Conduct investigation [against Smollett]", prosecutors explained in their bond proffer.

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Criminal Court Building after attending a hearing on whether cameras will be allowed in future proceedings of his trial on felony charges, in Chicago, March 12.

Detectives investigated the incident as a hate crime but local news outlets cited police sources saying it was believed to be a hoax.

According to prosecutors, the two men were Abel and Ola Osundairo, who both worked on "Empire".

Smollett's arraignment hearing followed the midseason premiere of "Empire", which resumed Wednesday.

Police initially arrested the brothers on February 13, after they were recognized from surveillance footage from near the scene of the alleged attack. He said at least one of them had invoked President Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan by yelling "This is MAGA country" during the attack. They became cooperating witnesses and were released without charges. In the report filed in late January, Smollett told authorities that he had been jumped while walking through downtown Chicago just past midnight.

There were several supporters outside the courthouse doors as Smollett arrived for the hearing, including some who waved signs.

Judge Watkins approved a request from Smollett's lawyers that the actor be allowed to travel freely to NY and California to consult with his bicoastal legal teams. But within a month, the story appeared to unravel.



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