CHICAGO (AP) — Jussie Smollett was released from jail Wednesday after an appeals court agreed with his lawyers that he should be free pending appeal of his conviction for lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack.
Smollett walked out of Cook County Jail Wednesday night after spending six nights behind bars, surrounded by security, and offered no comment as he got into a waiting SUV.
Smollett’s defense attorney, Nenye Uche, speaking to reporters outside the jail after Smollett’s departure, said the Smollett family was “very, very pleased with today’s developments”.
He criticized the special prosecutor’s decision to re-indict Smollett after the original charges were dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and he paid a fine.
FULL VIDEO: Jussie Smollett walks out of Cook County Jail
“Let me clarify something: there is no place for politics in our judicial system and our appeals courts in this great state do not do politics,” Uche said.
The appeals court ruling came after a Cook County judge last week ordered Smollett to immediately begin serving 150 days in jail for his conviction on five counts of disorderly conduct for lying to the police. The appeals court said Smollett could be freed after posting a $150,000 personal bond, meaning he doesn’t have to post any money but agrees to appear in court if needed.
Smollett’s attorneys had argued that he would have served his sentence at the end of the appeal process and that Smollett could be in danger of physical harm if he remained locked up in the Cook County Jail.
The special prosecutor’s office called the allegation that Smollett’s health and safety was at risk “factually incorrect,” in response to his motion, noting that Smollett was being held in protective custody at the jail.
The court ruling marks the latest chapter in a bizarre story that began in January 2019 when Smollett, who is black and gay, reported to Chicago police that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men wearing ski masks. The manhunt for the attackers quickly turned into an investigation into Smollett himself and his arrest for orchestrating the attack and lying to police about it.
The investigation revealed that Smollett had paid two men he knew from working on the television show “Empire” to organize the attack.
WATCH: ‘I’m innocent and I’m not suicidal’: Jussie Smollett screams in court after sentencing
A jury convicted Smollett in December of five counts of disorderly conduct – the charge laid when a person lies to police. He was acquitted on a sixth count. Judge James Linn sentenced Smollett last week to 150 days in jail – with good behavior he could have been released in as little as 75 days.
Smollett maintained his innocence during the trial. During sentencing, he shouted to the judge that he was innocent, warning him that he was not suicidal and that if he died in custody, it was someone else, not him, who would have committed suicide.
Uche said the first thing Jussie did upon hearing the news was push his hands on the glass between them and said he had almost given up hope in the US constitutional system. “I think he almost gave up,” Uche said.
He said the next step would be to appeal the verdict.
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