Published: Thu, March 14, 2019

Jussie Smollett appears in court

Jussie Smollett appears in court

According to a tweet from Chicago's CBS affiliate, Smollett will be allowed to travel to NY and Los Angeles without asking the court permission as he awaits trial. Some of his relatives sat in the court's overflow gallery near a handful of fans, some wearing "Empire" shirts. Each count carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

"As more evidence, such as text messages, phone records, social media records, bank records, surveillance video and the receipt from the purchase of the rope was obtained by investigators, the investigation shifted from a Hate Crime to a Disorderly Conduct investigation [against Smollett]", prosecutors explained in their bond proffer.

Actor Jussie Smollett (C) and team arrive for a court hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 12, 2019 in Chicago.

Detectives investigated the incident as a hate crime but local news outlets cited police sources saying it was believed to be a hoax.

After Smollett was arrested on February 21, Chicago prosecutors read out in court a lengthy series of text messages between Smollett and brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo that painted a picture of a clearly pre-planned attack. One had appeared with Smollett on "Empire", police and their lawyer said. Far from the racist and homophobic assault Smollett first describes in late January, the texts detailed preparing money to buy supplies, buying drugs, setting up meetings and ensuring that MAGA hats and chants were part of the assault.

The brothers confessed to the plot, police said. Chicago police say the money was for the staged attack, while Smollett claims it was for a five-week nutrition and workout program, as noted in the check's memo. Smollett chose to appear at a brief hearing at Cook County criminal court earlier this week, during which Judge LeRoy Martin reportedly ruled to allow cameras in the courtroom on Thursday but clarified that a trial judge would make the final decision.

In a "Good Morning America" interview last month, Smollett said he was angry some people questioned his story and suggested racial bias may be behind the disbelief.

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