The Epstein Situation: Lawyer for Jussie Smollett Explains Actor's Outburst About Suicide in Court

© AP Photo / Richard ShotwellJussie Smollett attends Carpool Karaoke: The Series launch event at the Chateau Marmont Hotel on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, in Los Angeles.
Jussie Smollett attends Carpool Karaoke: The Series launch event at the Chateau Marmont Hotel on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, in Los Angeles.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.03.2022
In 2019, the star of the musical drama "Empire" was assaulted by two men, who shouted homophobic and racial slurs. A subsequent police investigation revealed that the act was a hoax staged by the actor in order to promote his career.
A lawyer for Jussie Smollett has explained the actor's odd outburst about taking his own life. Moments after Judge James Linn announced a prison sentence for the 39-year-old, Smollett started saying that he is not suicidal.

"Your honour, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I didn't do this. I am innocent and I'm not suicidal. If anything happens to me when I go there, I did not do it to myself and you must all know that", Smollett said addressing the court.

When asked about the actor's comments, his lawyer Nenye Uche said that they were made for "a specific reason". In the event Smollett turns up dead in protective custody, he doesn't want people to think that he took his own life, the lawyer said before mentioning the case of financier Jeffrey Epstein.

"I don't want people to think, well, is he going crazy? Why is he yelling 'I'm not suicidal'? He was doing it for a specific reason because, let's be honest, we have the Epstein situation, where he was found dead in his jail even in protective custody. I cannot blame him because I have sued a lot of jails for unexplained deaths", Nenye Uche said.

In July 2019, Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on charges of running a sex trafficking network after several women accused him of sexual abuse. The case made headlines across the globe. Epstein rubbed shoulders with heads of state, billionaires, celebrities, and royals, with reports saying that some of his friends could be implicated in the crimes.

The New York City Medical Examiner's Office concluded that the financier hanged himself. Yet, a forensic pathologist hired by his family suggested that evidence pointed to the financier potentially having been strangled.

Prior to his death the billionaire was put on suicide watch after a first botched attempt to take his own life, but several days later was taken off of it. A subsequent investigation revealed that the prison guards responsible for checking on him were reportedly sleeping and browsing the internet and the video of his first suicide attempt was deleted due to a technical error.
These and other details sparked wild conspiracy theories. According to one of them, the disgraced financier didn't kill himself and was actually murdered by someone, a claim supported by a pathologist that was hired by Epstein's family. Numerous conspiracy theories suggest that his influential friends and acquaintances, among them US presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Prince Andrew, could have killed Epstein to avoid being implicated in his crimes during his trial.
Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail. In January 2019, the actor, who is Black and gay, said he was a victim of a hate crime. He stated that two men wearing ski masks assaulted him in the street and yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him.

Police detained the perpetrators, who also turned out to be Black. Later, it became known that they had worked as extras on the set of the musical drama "Empire", where Smollet starred, and that one of them was gay. The men told the police that the actor actually paid them to stage a crime in order to promote his career.

Aside from a jail sentence, the 39-year-old paid over $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago and $25,000 in fines. Prosecutors said police spent over 3,000 hours investigating the purported hate crime and had interviewed dozens of witnesses, walking door-to-door during Chicago's Polar Vortex, one of the coldest period in the city's history.

"There is nothing that I can do here today that can come close to the damage you've already done to your own life. You're just a charlatan pretending to be a victim of a hate crime, and that's shameful", Judge James Linn said announcing the verdict.

Smollett has maintained that he was a victim of a crime and claimed that he is innocent.
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