A prosecutor told jurors Wednesday there was “overwhelming evidence” that Jussie Smollett lied to Chicago police about being the victim of an anti-gay, racist crime, while defense attorneys called the case a “house of cards” built on testimony of two liars.
The attorneys’ final arguments were limited to just over a week of testimony in the lawsuit against the former “Empire” actor. The jury deliberated for about two hours on Wednesday but took the day off without reaching a verdict. They are expected to resume discussions on Thursday.
In his epilogue, special counsel Dan Webb said Smollett had cost Chicago police enormous resources to investigate a crime they now believe to be a forgery. Smollett, who is black and gay, told police that someone put a noose around his neck and shouted racist and homophobic slurs during the January attack. 2019 near his downtown Chicago home.
“Besides breaking the law, smearing something as serious as a real hate crime and then making sure it involves words and symbols of such historical significance. in our country is completely wrong.” Webb said.
He also accused Smollett of lying to jurors, saying the surveillance video from before the alleged attack and that night contradicted key moments in Smollett’s testimony.
“At the end of the day, he doesn’t have any credibility,” Webb said.
Defense attorney Nenye Uche said in her conclusion that the brothers who testified that Smollett staged the attack and paid them to carry it out were “sophisticated liars” for the money.
“The entire prosecution file, including the background of the case, was built like a house of cards,” Uche said.
Last week, these two brothers testified that Smollett recruited and paid them for the hoax, asking them to put a noose around his neck, shouting obscenities about racism and homophobia. gay and rough with him while watching surveillance cameras, and he said he wanted video of the hoax made public on social media.
Jussie Smollett Trial: Jussie’s brother JoJo speaks outside the courtroom at the start of testimony
Smollett testified that he was the victim of a true hate crime, telling jurors that “there was no hoax. “He called the brothers “liars,” and said the $3,500 check he wrote to them was for eating and training plans. His lawyers argued that the brothers attacked the actor because they were gay and that they fabricated the story of the staged assault but said they would not testify against Smollett if he had pay them 1 million dollars each.
Smollett said he was returning home around 2 a.m. on January 29, 2019, when someone shouted a racist, homophobic comment referring to the TV show “Empire.” This person also shouted something about “MAGA country”, a clear reference to then-President Donald Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again”. The tagline has also been scrawled on several hate letters, featuring a stick hanging from a noose, which Smollett testified he received on the set of “Empire”.
Smollett said one man hit him in the head and he fell to the ground and another kicked him before the attackers fled. Smollett said he noticed a rope, like a noose, wrapped around his neck after the attack. When he returned home, a friend called the Chicago police, which Smollett said he wouldn’t do because, as a black man, he didn’t trust the police.
Uche told the jury that one of the brothers, Olabingo Osundairo, had posted homophobic slurs on social media. He also recounted that Abimbola Osundairo testified that he had gone to the bathroom with Smollett but denied any sexual relationship. Smollett later testified that the men performed sex acts together at the bathhouse. Uche credits Olabingo’s homophobia and Abimbola’s “self-hatred” as motives for their attack.
Another possible motive, Uche said, was that Abimbola Osundairo wanted to be hired as Smollett’s bodyguard.
Webb said Smollett lied when he testified that he picked up the Osundairo brothers a few days before the alleged attack so they could work it out, rather than carry out a fake attack. , as the brothers told the jury last week. In surveillance video, the men are seen driving around Smollett’s apartment building three times, but Smollett never parked to go to the gym.
The brothers testified that Smollett pointed out that a surveillance camera near the intersection would record the fake attack, so that it could be made public on social media. But Smollett testified on Tuesday that it was not unusual for him to drive around and that he canceled plans to do so because he did not want to work with Olabingo Osundairo, whom he did not invite to go. together.
Uche told jurors that Smollett often drove around smoking marijuana and making music, and he questioned why prosecutors had not obtained surveillance video of him doing so.
“They don’t want to do that because it shows you it’s not a dry race,” said Uche.
Former ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett indicted in Chicago
Webb also referenced surveillance video that showed the Osundairo brothers walking around the area on the night of the attack. Webb questioned how the brothers – who did not live nearby – knew they would be in the area around 2 a.m. in freezing cold to carry out the mock attack.
“They knew where he was going because Smollett told them where he was going,” Webb said.
But Uche said the brothers testified they arrived 40 minutes early, adding that “they were protecting him.”
Webb also questioned why Smollett didn’t turn over his cell phone to the police or give them a DNA sample or access to his medical records to help with the investigation. Smollett testified that he did not trust the Chicago police, and that he was concerned about his privacy.
Uche called it “nonsense” for Chicago police to ask Smollett for his DNA when he was still considered the victim of a crime. He noted Smollett later provided DNA to the FBI for its own investigation into the hate mail he received at the “Empire” studio shortly before the alleged assault.
“He’s not hiding anything,” Uche said.
Disruption is a fourth-degree felony with a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts say if Smollett is found guilty he could be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.
Before leaving on Wednesday, the jury asked Judge James Linn for a copy of the calendar that prosecutors displayed at the trial showing the relevant dates, including the date of the assault. and the date on which they claim that Smollett and the brothers conducted their “dry run.” ”
© 2021 Canadian Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/8436167/jussie-smollett-trial-jury/ Jury weighs Jussie Smollett’s fate in hate crime spoof case – National