Jussie Smollett trial: Closing arguments underway in case about alleged hoax attack

The criminal trial began last week when prosecutors told jury that Smollett, who is black and gay, ordered two acquaintances, brothers Bola and Ola Osundairo, to carry out a false anti-gay and racist attack in one night. icy in Chicago. near the Smollett apartment building. Five police investigators and the Osundairo brothers testified for the prosecution last week.

Defense attorneys called seven witnesses to testify, singled out by Smollett himself. He testified for about 8 hours on Monday and Tuesday that he had not planned such a hoax, and that he was actually attacked one night after going out to buy a Subway sandwich.

After final arguments on Wednesday morning, the jury will be briefed on the law and then sent out to deliberate.

The long road to judgment

The trial is the culmination of a case that began when Smollett told police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in January 2019. Two men allegedly attacked him, called him the n word, put a noose around his neck and they poured bleach on it. over him and exclaimed: “This is the country of MAGA,” according to the police.
Celebrities, politicians and advocacy groups supported the actor, and the police invested significant resources to solve the case and locate the suspects. But after interviewing the Osundairo brothers, who knew Smollett from the “Empire” show, and finding other evidence, authorities determined that Smollett paid them $ 3,500 to stage the hate crime in order to gain publicity and a career boost.

Smollett has repeatedly denied the allegations and his attorneys have said he paid the brothers to be his coaches.

Smollett was initially charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct in March 2019. However, Cook County State Attorney’s Office Kim Foxx dropped all charges weeks later, saying he did community service, lost his bond of $ 10,000 and it was not a danger to the community. He also had no prior felony convictions.

Months after the charges were dropped, a judge appointed a special counsel to investigate the case and investigate whether Smollett received preferential treatment from the state attorney’s office. A grand jury indicted Smollett on new charges in February 2020.

The incident effectively ended Smollett’s acting career. His character was scrapped “Empire,” which ended in 2020, and although he has since directed and produced a film, he has not reappeared on screen.

Smollett still faces a civil lawsuit from the city demanding reimbursement for the cost of investigating the reported attack. He filed a counterclaim in November 2019 that was ultimately dismissed.

Key moments of the trial

Brothers Ola and Bola Osundairo arrive at court for a hearing of actor Jussie Smollett in Chicago, Illinois, on July 14.
The protagonists of the prosecution’s case were the Osundairo brothers, who were extras on the television program “Empire.” Each of them testified that Smollett led and paid them to organize the attack in an attempt to get media attention.

Bola Osundairo, who was closer to Smollett, told the court that Smollett “wanted me to beat him up.” He said he agreed to do so because he felt indebted to the actor.

The indictment rests after the brothers testify that Jussie Smollett ordered them to carry out a false racist and anti-gay attack.

“I thought it could help me advance my acting career,” Bola Osundairo testified. “He told me that we would need someone else to pretend to beat him up. He mentioned that my brother could do it. I said yes.”

His brother Ola Osundairo told the jury that Smollett “had this crazy idea that two MAGA supporters would attack him” and that he wanted to “put that on social media.”

“Did Mr. Smollett ask you to pretend to attack him?” Deputy Special Counsel Sam Mendenhall asked.

“Yes,” replied Ola Osundairo.

“Pretending to be Trump supporters?” Mendenhall continued.

“Yes,” said Ola Osundairo.

“So he could post it on social media?” the prosecutor continued.

“Yes,” replied Ola Osundairo.

According to their plan, the brothers met Smollett around 2 am at his apartment during a cold snap known as a “polar vortex,” they testified. There, as he had instructed, they yelled “Empire, shit, black, MAGA”, gave him a fake punch, bleached him and put a rope around his neck, they testified.

“If you hadn’t had advanced discussions with Jussie Smollett, how would you know where you would be at 2am in a polar vortex?” asked special counsel Dan Webb.

“I wouldn’t,” replied Bola Osundairo.

The defense rests on the trial of Jussie Smollett after the prosecution contrasted his version of events with other testimonies

However, the defense has repeatedly said that Smollett was an actual victim of an attack. They have suggested that the brothers were motivated by homophobia and / or an attempt to scare Smollett into hiring them as security.

Smollett took the stand to present his version of events. He emphatically said that he did not plan the attack in advance and said that he paid the brothers $ 3,500 for training and nutritional advice, not for any deceptive attack.

“Have you ever planned a hoax?” asked his lawyer.

“Never in my life,” Smollett said.

He also questioned the true motivations of the brothers. He said he received a “hate letter” in the mail at the “Empire” studio in Chicago on January 22, 2019, seven days before the alleged attack. He was subsequently approached by Bola Osundairo to become his personal security guard, something Osundairo had repeatedly requested of him, Smollett testified.

In addition, he testified that he had a sexual relationship with Bola Osundairo, but said that Ola Osundairo “scared” him. Bola Osundairo denied having any sexual relationship with Smollett.

CNN’s Omar Jiménez and Bill Kirkos reported from Chicago, Eric Levenson and Steve Almasy wrote and reported from New York and Atlanta. Jason Hanna and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.


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