CHICAGO – Jussie Smollett is “a real victim” of a “real crime,” her attorney said Monday in the opening statement at the ex-Empire actor’s trial, dismissing prosecutors’ allegations that she staged A homophobic and racist attack After the television studio in Chicago where he worked, he did not take hate mail seriously.
Defense attorney Nenny Uche said the two brothers attacked Smollett in January 2019 because they didn’t like him, and that he a $3,500 check The actor paid for training the men so that he could prepare for an upcoming music video, not as payment for staging a hate crime, as prosecutors allege. Uche also suggested that a third attacker was involved and told jurors that there was no “piece” of physical and forensic evidence linking Smollett to the crime prosecutors’ charges.
“Jussie Smollett is a real victim,” Uche said.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb said the actor recruited the brothers to help him carry out a mock attack, then reported it to Chicago police, who classified it as a hate crime and spent 3,000 staff hours on the investigation. Smollett said he was attacked by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, a report that ignited political and ideological divisions across the country.
Webb, named as special prosecutor after the original charges filed against Smollett were dropped by Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx’s office, “when he reported the fake hate crime, which was a real crime.” a new charge Was returned in 2020.
Smollett, who arrived at a Chicago courthouse Monday with his mother and other family members, has been charged with felony murder. A Class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said it is likely that if convicted, Smollett will be placed on probation and perhaps ordered to perform community service.
Webb told jurors that Smollett was unhappy with how the studio handled the letter he received. Webb said that letter included a stick figure hanging from a tree and “MAGA,” a reference to Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan.
He said that Smollett had then coined the fake attack and had “dress rehearsals” with the two brothers—who had worked with Smollett on the “Empire” set—in which he was asked to use racial and homophobic slurs and shouts “MAGA”. had gone. Smollett also asked the brothers to buy ski masks, red hats and a rope, Webb told jurors.
“She told them to use a rope to make it look like a hate crime,” Webb said.
But Uche said Smollett turned down the extra security when the studio offered it. He portrayed the brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundaro, as unreliable, saying that their story has changed while Smollett’s has not, and that when police searched their home they found heroin and guns.
Twelve jurors and three substitutes were sworn in late Monday for the trial that Judge James Lynn said he expected to take about a week. Cameras are not allowed inside the courtroom and proceedings are not being livestreamed, unlike other recent high-profile trials.
Whether Smollett, who is Black and Gay, will testify remains an open question. But the brothers and sisters will take the stand of Sakshi.
Jury members can also see Surveillance video from more than four dozen cameras That police reviewed the brothers’ movements before and after the alleged attack, as well as a video showing the brothers shopping for supplies hours earlier.
Buried in about 500 pages of the Chicago Police Department report is a statement from an area resident who says he saw a white man with “reddish brown hair” waiting for someone that night. She told a detective that when the man turned away from her, she could see “what looked like a rope hanging from under her jacket.”
Her remarks may support Smollett’s argument that his assailants had wrapped a temporary noose around his neck. Furthermore, if he testified that the man was white, it would support Smollett’s statements—widely ridiculed because the brothers who come from Nigeria are black—that he had smudges around the eyes of one of his masked attackers. Yellow or white skin seen.