The Jussie Smollett trial is slowly drawing to a close.
It has been over two years since January 2019, when the “Empire” actor claimed that he was assaulted by two men in a racist, homophobic attack. Although many celebrities and politicians initially expressed support for Smollett, that all changed when the Osundairo brothers stepped forward to claim that Smollett asked them to stage the attack.
Smollett, 39, has pled not guilty to six counts of disorderly conduct for falsifying reports to police. He could face up to three years in prison if convicted.
Judge James Linn heard closing arguments on Wednesday, which came after two days of Smollett testifying on the stand in his own defense. Although Smollett appeared calm and composed on Monday when he recounted his family life and his start on “Empire,” the cross-examination from prosecutor Dan Webb quickly dissolved into a contentious back-and-forth.
Jussie Smollett Asks Prosecutor To Stop Using The N-Word
The atmosphere was tense in the courtroom as Smollett was, at times, flippant with his responses to the prosecutor, firmly denying that the assault was a hoax.
When Webb asked if he said his attackers were white to get more attention, Smollett responded, “You’d have to ask someone who actually did fake a hate crime.”
At another point in the trial, Webb was reading text messages between Smollett and Osundairo. Smollett interrupted him to ask him to stop saying the n-word “out of respect for every African American in the courtroom.”
When Webb asked Smollett about specific messages from Osundairo the night of the attack, Smollett insisted, “No, but there’s also no messages about an attack and I’m on trial for an attack that I didn’t do.”
Prosecution Accuses Smollett Of Lying Under Oath
During closing arguments on Wednesday afternoon, the prosecution insisted that Smollett had lied while testifying in his defense.
“Mr. Smollett developed a plan to carry out a fake hate crime,” Webb began. “He then falsely reported the fake hate crime to the Chicago Police Department as a real hate crime.”
The prosecution pointed to Smollett’s decision to withhold medical, DNA, and cell phone evidence from police as proof of his guilt.
“Mr. Smollett didn’t want the crime solved,” Webb continued. “He wanted the media exposure but he didn’t want the brothers apprehended.”
To support this, Webb pointed to a February 2019 interview where Smollett originally indicated that he would sign criminal complaints indicating that the Osundairo brothers had carried out the crime.
However, Smollett did not sign this document, reportedly under the advice of his legal team. Later that day, Webb sent a message to Bola Osundauiro saying, “Brother I love you, I stand with you, I know you did nothing wrong.”
Another instance Webb pointed to was a noose that was allegedly tied around his neck by his attackers. On the stand, Smollett said that he took the rope off after the attack and then put it back on for police when they arrived.
However, during an interview with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America” shortly after the attack, Smollett said that he had kept the rope around his neck while waiting for police to arrive.
Webb insisted that the change in his story “destroys his credibility.”
The closings arguments, which took over five hours, have been made, and the case has now been handed over to the jury. Legal experts say that a verdict can come as early as Thursday, December 9, 2021.