CHICAGO (AP) – Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday morning in the case against former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who is accused of orchestrating a racist and anti-gay attack on himself in downtown Chicago. to get publicity.
The jury is expected to begin deliberating whether Smollett is guilty of six counts of a low-level felony for lying to Chicago police about the January 2019 attack.
Taking the witness stand earlier this week, Smollett repeatedly denied that the attack was false, telling a prosecutor that “there was no deception on my part” and that two brothers who testified against him are “liars.” .
Smollett called the Osundairo brothers’ testimony that he paid them $ 3,500 to carry out the bogus attack “100% bogus.” and described how he was the victim of a hate crime while walking in his neighborhood early on January 29, 2019. He also testified that a check for $ 3,500 he wrote for Abimbola Osundairo it was for meal and workout plans because he was trying to get toned up for an upcoming music video.
Under questioning For Special Counsel Dan Webb, Smollett said Tuesday that a few days before the alleged attack, he picked up Osundairo in his car to go exercise and that Osundairo’s brother, Olabingo, arrived. Smollett denied the brothers’ testimony that they circled the area where the alleged attack took place three times as a “rehearsal” for the false assault. He said it was not unusual for him to drive in circles and that he canceled the plan to exercise because he did not want to do it with Olabingo Osundairo., whom he had not invited.
Smollett was quiet during hours of testimony with his defense attorney on Monday, but appeared to get irritated during his exchanges with Webb on Tuesday, at one point telling the veteran prosecutor that he does not understand the social media app Instagram.
Webb’s cross-examination also revealed some inconsistencies in Smollett’s testimony, including whether he sent private messages to confirm the timing of the alleged attack and whether his attackers were white, as police say Smollett told them.
When Webb asked Smollett if he sent private Instagram messages to Abimbola Osundairo the night of the alleged attack regarding the timing of the fake attack, Smollett replied, “there was no fake attack” and denied sending the messages. After Webb showed Smollett four messages that Smollett sent to Osundairo that night, Smollett told Webb, “If you say so, sir.”
In the final message, sent at 12:41 am, about 90 minutes before the alleged attack, Smollett told Osundairo that he had finally returned home from the airport. Smollett testified that he was sending the messages to organize a training session, not a fake attack.
On Monday, Smollett testified that he was returning home after buying a sandwich around 2 am when someone yelled a racist and homophobic comment referencing the television show “Empire.” The person also yelled something about “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to then-President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” The slogan had also been scrawled on some hate mail, which included a drawing of a stick figure hanging from a rope, which Smollett had received on the set of “Empire,” he testified.
Smollett said that when he turned to face the person, a man hit him on the head and he fell to the ground, where he said another man kicked him before the attackers fled. Smollett said he noticed a rope, like a rope, around his neck after the attack. When he returned home, a friend called the Chicago police, something Smollett said he would not have done because, as a black man, he does not trust the police.
When Webb asked if he meant that the brothers were his attackers, Smollett replied, “No, I don’t know. There’s no way I know that. ”Webb then asked if Smollett recognized the voice of Abimbola Osundairo, who is called Bola, during the incident.
“At that point, I’m not going to stop and say, ‘Hey Ball, is that you?'” Smollett testified.
The brothers testified last week that the fake attack was Smollett’s idea, and that he gave them $ 100 to buy supplies, including a rope to tie a noose around his neck, and ordered them to yell racial and gay slurs and “MAGA.” .
Smollett said of the Osundairo brothers: “They are liars.”
Smollett, 39, is charged with six counts of disorderly conduct for doing what prosecutors say was a false police report on the alleged attack – one count for each time he gave a report – to three different officers. The class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said that if Smollett is convicted, he will likely be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.
See full AP coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.