Despite the evidence and public opinion stacked against him, "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett reappeared in court Thursday, pleading not guilty to charges of staging a hate crime in January of this year.
Smollett filed a report with the police saying that two men wearing MAGA hats had beaten him on a night in Chicago. While many celebrities and politicians came to Smollett's defense, saying how the case was representative of everything wrong with America, the actor's story was under suspicion from the start. Many pointed out the improbability not only of Trump supporters in Downtown Chicago, but also the likelihood of an attack happening in the middle of the polar vortex the city happened to be in at the time.
Real holes started showing in the story when the police found two suspects: a pair of Nigerian brothers. Both of them had worked as extras on "Empire."
More evidence began throwing doubt on Smollett's story; the brothers testified that Smollett had paid them to stage the attack, there was video evidence that the brothers had purchased supplies used during the attack shortly before it happened and there was no video of the attack actually happening. Smollett was charged with filing a false report and was arrested on Feb. 21. On March 8, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts of "false report of offense."
Smollett is expected to reappear in court in April.
Note: This is a developing story. We will keep you posted with updates.