The sole black member of the jury that convicted Jussie Smollett of lying about an alleged hate crime said the “Empire” actor’s claims “didn’t add up.”
Juror Andre Hope spoke out about the closely watched case, suggesting Smollett’s story that he was beaten up by two Trump-loving bigots who tied a noose around his neck and doused him in bleach was too elaborate to believe.
“When you just use your common sense as what’s there, yeah it just, it didn’t add up,” Hope, 63, told WLS-TV.
“I still have not figured out a motive for why he did, why this had to even happen. He was a star,” he added.
Hope also questioned why the “Empire” actor would put the noose back on before police arrived at his apartment to take his report.
“As an African American person, I’m not putting that noose back on at all,” he said.
The panel of 12 jurors last week found Smollett, 39, who is black and openly gay, guilty of five of six counts of felony disorderly conduct for lying about the hoax hate crime.
Smollett was accused of staging the Jan. 29, 2019, attack in Chicago by paying brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo $3,500 to carry out the phony assault, which he claimed was a hate crime because they shouted homophobic and racist slurs.
During the trial, the actor testified that after the attack, he returned home and put the rope back around his neck so police who came to his apartment soon after could see it.
Hope, a father of two who lives in suburban Bellwood, west of Chicago, said the evidence against Smollett was overwhelming — and that the counter-narrative put forth by Smollett’s attorneys that the brothers had planned the attack made no sense.
The juror listened to prosecutors argue that Smollett staged the hoax because he was angry that the studio where he filmed “Empire” did not take hate mail he received seriously.
Hope praised his fellow jurors, but said he was disappointed to be the lone black on the jury.
“Because how can we say that this is a jury of your peers when there’s only one African American?” he said. “And there were plenty there, so you could’ve gotten two, three, four. African Americans can handle the truth, too. And we can give an impartial judgment on a case.”
Hope also said he thinks Smollett has lost enough and doesn’t deserve to end up in prison, adding that the actor should get a second chance in Hollywood.
Smollett faces up to three years behind bars, but experts have said it is far more likely that he will be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.
With Post wires