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

The criminal trial began last week when prosecutors told the jury that Smollett, who is black and gay, directed two of his acquaintances — brothers Paula and Ola Osondaero — to carry out a fake anti-gay and racist attack on a frigid Chicago night. Near the Smollett apartment building. Five police investigators and the Osondaero brothers testified to prosecutors last week.

Defense attorneys called seven of their own witnesses to testify, which Smollett himself had highlighted. He testified over the course of 8 hours on Monday and Tuesday that he had not planned any such trick, and that he was attacked one night after he went out to get a Subway sandwich.

After closing arguments on Wednesday morning, the jury will be briefed on the law and then sent to deliberation.

The long road to trial

The trial is the culmination of a case that began when Smollett told police he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in January 2019. Two men are said to have attacked him, called him an n-word, put a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him and shouted, “This is MAGA country,” according to to the police.
Celebrities, politicians, and defense groups rallied behind the actor, and the police poured significant resources into solving the case and locating the suspects. But after interviewing the Osundairo brothers – who knew Smollett from “Empire” – and finding other evidence, authorities decided instead that Smollett paid them $3,500 to carry out the hate crime so he could get publicity and advance his career.

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

Smollett was initially indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct offenses in March 2019. However, the Cook County District Attorney’s Office, Kim Fox, dropped all charges weeks later, saying he had performed community service, and forfeited his 10,000 guarantee. dollars and was not a threat to society. He also did not have any previous criminal convictions.

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

The accident effectively ended Smollett’s acting career. His character was written off from Empire, which ended in 2020, and although he has directed and produced a movie since then, he has never appeared on screen again.

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

Important moments in the trial

Brothers Ola and Paula Osondaero arrive in court for a hearing for actress Jussie Smollett in Chicago, Illinois, on July 14.
The stars of the prosecution’s lawsuit were the Osondaero brothers, who were extras on the TV show “Empire”. They each testified that Smollett directed them and prompted them to launch the attack in an attempt to gain media attention.

Paula Osondaero, who was closer to Smollett, told the court that Smollett “wanted me to pretend to beat him.” He said he agreed to do it because he felt indebted to the actor.

The lawsuit is launched after the Josie Smollett brothers testified that they were directed to carry out a fake, anti-gay racist attack

Paula Osondaero testified: “I thought it could help advance my acting career.” “He told me we would need someone else to pretend to beat him. He mentioned that my brother could do it. So I said yes.”

His brother Ola Osondaero told the jury that Smollett “had this crazy idea of ​​two MAGA supporters attacking him”, and that he wanted to “spread this on social media”.

“Mr. Smollett asked you to fake attack him?” asked Deputy Special Prosecutor Sam Mindenhall.

Ola Osondaero replied, “Yes.”

Pretending to be Trump supporters? Follow Mendenhall.

“Yes,” said Ola Osondaero.

“So he can then post it on social media?” The prosecutor continued.

Ola Osondaero replied, “Yes.”

According to their plan, the Smollett brothers met at about 2 a.m. near his apartment during a cold spell known as the “polar vortex,” they testified. And there they bore witness, as he commanded, and shouted “Empire, damn it, nothing, Maga,” punched him mock, poured bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck.

“If you haven’t had advanced discussions with Jussie Smollett, how would you know where he would be at 2 AM in a polar vortex?” asked Special Prosecutor Dan Webb.

“I won’t,” replied Paula Osondaero.

Defense settled in Jussie Smollett trial after prosecutors compared his version of events to other testimonies

However, the defense repeatedly said that Smollett was a real victim of an attack. They have suggested that the two brothers were motivated by homophobia and/or an attempt to intimidate Smollett into hiring them as collateral.

Smollett took the stand to present his version of events. He emphatically said he did not plan the attack ahead of time, and said he paid the brothers $3,500 for training and nutritional advice — not for any hoax attack.

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

It never happened in my life, Smollett said.

He also questioned the motives of the true brothers. He said he received a “hate letter” by mail at the Empire studio in Chicago on January 22, 2019, seven days before the alleged attack. Next, Paula Osundairo approached him about becoming his personal security guard, something Osundairo repeatedly asked him about, according to Smollett’s testimony.

In addition, he testified that he had a sexual relationship with Paula Osondaero, but said that he was “crawled” by Ola Osundairo. Paula Osondaero has denied having any sexual relationship with Smollett.

CNN’s Omar Jimenez and Bill Kirkus have reported from Chicago, and Eric Levinson and Steve Almasy have written and written reports from New York and Atlanta. Jason Hanna and Christina Maxuris contributed to this report.


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