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Cook County Judge James Linn also ordered Smollett to pay $120,106 restitution to the city of Chicago and a $25,000 fine.
In a highly unusual turn of events, Smollett declared “I am not suicidal!” and “I did not do this!” with one fist in the air as he was taken into custody and removed from the court room.
Linn excoriated Smollett prior to handing down his sentence for what he referred to as “misconduct and shenanigans.”
“I’m going to tell you Mr. Smollett, I know that there is nothing that I will do here today that will come close to the damage you’ve already done to your own life,” Linn said.
In considering the sentence, Linn said Smollett’s “extreme” premeditation of the crime was an aggravating factor.
“You committed hour upon hour upon hour of perjury,” Linn said.
Smollett walked into the Leighton Criminal Courts building flanked by his family and attorney for his sentencing hearing at 1 p.m., where his defense team first sought to have the jury’s verdict overturned on legal grounds.
“I do believe at the end of the day that Mr. Smollett received a fair trial, that he was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury based on the evidence that was presented,” Judge Linn said.
WATCH | Key moments in Jussie Smollett case
The judge denied the motion and called for a break before moving onto the sentencing phase. Witnesses for both the state and Smollett testified at Smollett’s sentencing.
Smollett’s grandmother, testifying for the defense, asked Linn not to include prison time in his sentence for Smollett.
“I ask you, judge, not to send him to prison,” Molly Smollett, 92, told the court. She later added, “If you do, send me along with him, OK?”
Special prosecutor Dan Webb asked Linn to include “an appropriate amount of prison time” when sentencing the actor for his conviction. Webb said he would not ask for a specific amount of time, leaving that to Linn’s discretion.
He also asked that Smollett be ordered to pay $130,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago.
Smollett was offered the opportunity to speak, but declined, saying he agreed with his attorney’s advice to remain quiet.
Smollett’s sentencing hearing comes three months after the actor was convicted of faking a hate crime against himself. Smollett told Chicago police he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in Streeterville back in January 2019.
After a long investigation and years in court, Smollett was convicted of five of six felony counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police. He faced a maximum sentence of three years in prison for all counts.
“These are very low-level crimes and it would be extraordinary in a normal case for someone with no meaningful criminal history to face jail time on these crimes, but this is not the normal case,” said ABC Legal Analyst Gil Soffer. “Given the notoriety, given what he put the city of Chicago through, I wouldn’t be shocked to see some very small amount of prison imposed.”
WATCH: Legal expert weighs in on Smollett sentencing
Several big names came to Smollett’s defense, writing letters to the judge asking for leniency.
Among them was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, writing in part that “Jussie has a long track record of being a deeply engaged and contributing citizen” and that “Jussie has already suffered.”
Actor Samuel L. Jackson and his wife, actress LaTanya Jackson, also wrote the judge a letter, saying in part, “I humbly implore you to please find an alternative to incarceration.”
Smollett’s brother Jojo said that should speak to his brother’s integrity and should justify no jail time.
“My brother has no criminal record, has been a productive citizen of society,” said Jojo Smollett. “He has given back to so many communities and has touched so many people’s lives and is loved by so many people, as is revealed in the outpouring of support and letters and people have come forth asking for no incarceration.”
Cameras were allowed in the courtroom for Thursday afternoon’s hearing.
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