/  12.15.2021

Andre Hope, the only Black juror in the Jussie Smollett trial, is speaking out after the former “Empire” star was found guilty of five of six counts of felony disorderly conduct last week.

Speaking with Chicago’s ABC 7, 63-year-old Hope called the entire case “sad” and said he took no pleasure in finding Smollett guilty of staging a hate crime against himself in January of 2019.

“I still have not figured out a motive for why he did [it]; why this had to even happen,” Hope said. “He was a star.”

Hope said he was unfamiliar with Smollett prior to the trial and was “completely shocked” when he was selected to serve on the jury. “At that point, I took it very seriously,” he said.

Hope said Smollett’s story about the two men, brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, attacking him one early January morning “didn’t add up.”

“[It’s] 2:00 in the morning, cold outside,” Hope noted. “When you just use your common sense as what’s there… it just it didn’t add up.

Another part of Smollett’s testimony that gave Hope pause was about the noose that the actor claimed the two brothers put around his neck. Taking the stand in his own defense, Smollett said he removed the noose when he returned home after the attack but, at the urging of his friend, put it back around his neck to show police.

“As an African American person, I’m not putting that noose back on at all,” Hope explained.

The Bellwood, Illinois resident also revealed the jurors on the panel didn’t argue with each other and took their time during their over nine hours of deliberation. He also said he was disappointed to be the only Black juror on the panel.

“Because how can we say that this is a jury of your peers when there’s only one African American? And there were plenty there, so you could’ve gotten two, three, four,” he said. “African Americans can handle the truth, too. And we can give an impartial judgment on a case.”

Speaking with the outlet, Hope said he doesn’t believe Smollett deserves jail time and hopes he’ll get a second chance in his acting career. As reported by REVOLT, Smollett will return to court in 2022 for his sentencing. He faces up to three years in prison for the felony disorderly conduct conviction, but is more likely to be placed on probation and ordered to complete community service.

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