Testimony in court over whether Jussie Smollett lied to police about being a victim of a hate crime ended Tuesday after the actor was questioned in detail by the prosecution about his interactions with his attackers shortly before the attack.
The case is expected to begin on Wednesday following closing arguments and six days of testimony, in which the two brothers claimed that Mr. Smollett staged the attack as a publicity stunt and the actor described them as liars.
On Tuesday, Mr Smollett dismissed accusations that he was planning an attack with the Abimbola brothers Osendaro and Olabinjo Osendaro days and hours before the 2019 attack, calling their encounters harmless.
During one meeting two days before the attack, he and Abimbola Osendaro simply smoked marijuana while Mr. Smollett drove the brothers around Chicago ahead of a scheduled training session, he said. According to him, he hired Abimbola Osendairo to help him “rip” for the music video.
“Nothing strange or wrong has happened,” Mr. Smollett said of his trip with the brothers.
But the prosecution challenged his story and questioned him on Tuesday about why their trip continued to surround the area where the attack later took place.
Likewise, Daniel K. Webb, the special prosecutor for the case, insisted on Mr. Smollett why he kept informing Abimbola Osendaro of delays in his flight back to Chicago late at night on January 28, 2019, shortly before. the attack took place.
The brothers testified that Mr. Smollett was informing them of the delay so that they could reschedule the premeditated attack on him, which took place at about 2 am.
Mr Smollett testified that he actually kept Abimbola Osendaro informed only because they had plans to be worked out.
Mr Webb, however, noted that there were no messages or emails following the attack to cancel a training session scheduled for the morning of January 29. He asked Mr. Smollet if Abimbola Osendaro had come to see him this morning.
“I say I don’t know,” Mr. Smollett replied.
Mr Smollett also testified that on the night of the attack, he posted updates about his flight to his Instagram followers, and that Abimbola Osendairo was not the only person who wrote to him directly about it, suggesting that the messages did not indicate that they coordinated the attack.
These conversations often escalated, and Mr. Smollett was at times nervous, prompting Justice James Lynn to urge him to directly answer the prosecutor’s questions.
In testimony earlier this week, the brothers described how Mr. Smollett detailed the planned attack after expressing disappointment that the producers of the television show Empire, which he starred in, did not react more seriously to the death threat he presented. … received by mail.
A show employee contested this claim on Monday, saying the show actually offered to provide security to get Mr. Smollett back and forth from the studio, but the actor refused.
Mr Smollett, 39, pleaded not guilty to multiple hooliganism charges related to reporting the attack as a hate crime due to racist and homophobic insults from his attackers. His lawyers claimed that the Osendaro brothers attacked him because they wanted to intimidate him into hiring them as his guard. On Monday, Mr Smollett testified that Abimbola Osendairo had persistently requested to act as his bodyguard, including after he received a threatening letter.
Prosecutors alleged that the brothers only beat Mr. Smollett enough to bruise him without seriously injuring him, and threw a rope around his neck to create the impression that he was the victim of a hate crime. On Tuesday, Mr. Smollett revisited the narrative, suggesting that his injuries were indeed serious enough that he still has a scar under his right eye that will not go away.
Much of Mr. Webb’s interrogation has focused on events since January 27, when the Osendairo brothers say that Mr. Smollett took them through a “test drive”, taking them to an intersection near his apartment building and pointing out where he wanted it to happen. attack. …
Mr Smollett testified that he followed Abimbola Osendaro for training that day, and when Olabinjo Osendaro inexplicably joined him at the gathering point, Mr Smollett said he used the upcoming TV interview as an excuse to cancel the training session and drive brothers home.
Understand the Jussie Smollett Trial
Mr. Smollett said that Olabinjo Osendaro “scared me” in an earlier deposition and said that he does not like to deal with the other people present.
But when Mr. Webb wanted to know why he drove around his neighborhood for 10 or 15 minutes before taking the brothers home, Mr. Smollett replied, “I don’t know. That was three years ago. “
Mr Webb noted that surveillance videos show Mr Smollett’s car circling over the intersection where the attack took place three times over a period of several minutes.
The prosecution also touched on what police believed to be an inconsistency in Mr Smollett’s account: in his first two interviews with police, he described one of the attackers as white, but later changed that to say he was pale. Mr Smollett testified that he assumed the attacker was white due to the racist insults he used and the fact that he said, “This is MAGA country,” referring to the campaign slogan of former President Donald Trump.
“Sir, do you think stating that this person was white would increase the credibility of the fake hate crime?” asked Mr Webb.
“You have to ask someone who has committed a fake crime,” Mr. Smollett said.