Jussie Smollett took the witness stand Monday at his trial on expenses of staging a racist, anti-gay assault on himself and mendacity to Chicago police about it.
The actor who starred on the TV present Empire shared his account of what occurred in January 2019 in an try and refute damaging testimony from two brothers who testified final week. They mentioned Smollett, who’s homosexual and Black, orchestrated the hoax to get publicity, giving them $100 for provides and instructing them to put a noose round his neck and yell homophobic slurs. Additionally they mentioned Smollett paid them $3,500 to hold it out.
Defence attorneys have prompt the brothers, who’re Black, had been motivated to accuse Smollett of staging the hoax as a result of they disliked him after which noticed a chance to earn cash. They prompt that after the brothers, Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, had been questioned by police in regards to the alleged assault, they requested Smollett for $1 million every to not testify in opposition to him at trial.
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Smollett’s attorneys even have argued that Chicago police rushed to judgement after they introduced expenses in opposition to Smollett, and prompt a 3rd individual might have been concerned within the assault.
On the witness stand Monday, Smollett advised the jury how he grew up in a close-knit household of six youngsters and began performing as a baby actor earlier than getting extra into music. He mentioned he “got here to phrases with my sexuality” in his early 20s, when he bought concerned in charity organizations, together with a gaggle that fights AIDS within the Black group.
He mentioned he auditioned for a job on Empire of a singer who’s homosexual as a result of he had by no means seen a Black man portrayed that means. By Season 5, Smollett mentioned he was being paid $100,000 per episode.
Smollett mentioned he met Abimbola Osundairo in 2017 at a membership, the place he realized Osundairo additionally labored on the set of Empire. He mentioned the 2 males did medication collectively and went to a bathhouse, the place Smollett mentioned they “made out.” Over time, he mentioned the 2 males did extra medication collectively and took part in intercourse acts collectively. Osundairo testified final week that he and Smollett didn’t have a sexual relationship.
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Smollett testified that he met Abimbola’s brother, Olabingo, however that they didn’t converse and “he type of freaked me out.” He mentioned Abimbola Osundairo made it look like the boys wanted to “sneak off” after they had been collectively round his brother. Smollett mentioned he by no means trusted Olabingo Osundairo.
2nd brother testifies Jussie Smollett paid for pretend hate crime assault
Prosecutors say Smollett staged the assault as a result of he was sad with the Empire studio’s response to hate mail he obtained. The letter together with a drawing of a stick determine hanging by a noose, with a gun pointed at it, and the phrase “MAGA” — an obvious reference to then-President Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make America Nice Once more.” The Osundairo brothers testified that Smollett advised them to yell “that is MAGA nation” through the pretend assault.
Brett Mahoney, who produced Empire in Chicago, testified earlier Monday that Smollett known as him after the hate mail was despatched to the set.
“We had been clearly all very upset in regards to the letter,” Mahoney mentioned, including that legislation enforcement was contacted and the letter turned over to authorities. He mentioned Smollett agreed to added on-set safety, however didn’t need anybody following him dwelling as a result of he felt it was too intrusive.
Additionally Monday, safety guard Anthony Moore mentioned that across the time of the alleged assault, he noticed an individual on the bottom on the finish of the block and two males operating, considered one of whom was white. Moore mentioned he advised police what he noticed, however when he was later questioned by the particular prosecutor he felt pressured to alter his story. Moore testified that he signed a press release that mentioned the individual was “presumably” a Black man, however that he felt “stress and threatened to place one thing on the market that I didn’t see.”
Underneath cross-examination, Moore mentioned he solely noticed the person for one to 2 seconds. He additionally mentioned he thought the boys had been playing around, and that the 2 males had been laughing as they ran by him.
Smollett, 39, is charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for making what prosecutors say was a false police report in regards to the alleged assault — one rely for every time he gave a report — to a few completely different officers. The category 4 felony carries a jail sentence of as much as three years, however specialists have mentioned if Smollett is convicted he possible can be positioned on probation and ordered to carry out group service.
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