Associated Press: CHICAGO — A judge sentenced Jussie Smollett to 150 days in jail, branding the Black and gay actor a narcissistic charlatan for staging a hate crime against himself to grab the limelight while the nation struggled with wrenching issues of racial injustice. Smollett responded by defiantly maintaining his innocence and suggesting he could be killed in jail.

The sentence and Smollett’s post-hearing outburst capped an hourslong hearing Thursday and more than three years of legal drama following Smollett’s claim that he had been the target of a racist and homophobic attack.

Actor Jussie Smollett speaks to Judge James Linn after his sentence is read at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Chicago. Smollett maintained his innocence during his sentencing hearing Thursday after a judge sentenced the former “Empire” actor to 150 days in jail for lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack that he orchestrated himself – Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool

Smollett didn’t make a statement when offered the opportunity before the judge announced the sentence, saying he was listening to his attorneys’ advice. But after Cook County Judge James Linn issued his decision, Smollett removed the face mask he wore throughout the hearing to proclaim himself innocent.

“If I did this, then it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBT community,” Smollett said, standing up at the defense table as his lawyers and sheriff’s deputies surrounded him.

“Your Honor, I respect you and I respect the jury but I did not do this. And I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.”

Top Feature Photo: Actor Jussie Smollett speaks to Judge James Linn after his sentence is read at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Chicago – Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool