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