Attorneys presented their final arguments Wednesday at Jussie Smollett’s criminal trial, where the former Empire actor faces charges of having lied to Chicago police about a 2019 attack.
Smollett denies the charges.
Special counsel Dan Webb told jury Wednesday that the evidence against Smollett is “overwhelming,” and that what he did in January 2019 caused Chicago police to spend an enormous amount of time and resources investigating an alleged crime that turned out to be false.
Smollett, who is black and gay, told police that someone put a noose around his neck and yelled racist and homophobic slurs.
Police began investigating the hate crime, but the 39-year-old actor was later charged with organizing the attack with brothers Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo because he was unhappy at work and wanted to generate publicity to help him in his career.
“Besides going against the law, it is simply wrong to openly denigrate something as serious as an actual hate crime and then make sure it involves words and symbols that have historical significance in our country,” Webb said.
Webb listed six key details that he said “destroy” Smollett’s credibility, including Smollett’s refusal to hand over evidence like his cell phone and a DNA sample to police, Smollett’s allegedly false statements about the attackers’ race to the police, the way the rope was used. around Smollett’s neck, the brothers’ alleged inability to attack Smollett without prior knowledge, and the lack of serious injuries in medical evidence.
“Mr. Smollett didn’t want the crime solved … he didn’t want the brothers arrested,” Webb said.
He went on to say: “If he was innocent, the true victim of a hate crime, why would he be playing with the rope? It made everything look worse and they caught him, ”referring to a surveillance image of the rope tied loosely around Smollett’s neck after the attack. The rope was closer to his throat when the police arrived.
Smollett’s defense attorney, Nenye Uche, rejected the accusation, arguing that “the entire prosecution case, including the basis of the case, is built like a house of cards.”
He also called the Osundairo brothers, whom prosecutors allege Smollett recruited to help carry out a bogus attack, “sophisticated liars” and said they are “the worst kind of criminals.”
One of the brothers “said so many times ‘I don’t remember’, it’s ridiculous,” said Uche. “You have to be alert to them mentally, emotionally, even spiritually … They are very smart, very smart and they know how to simplify things so that you think they are victims.”
Smollett is charged with six counts of disorderly conduct for doing what prosecutors say was a false police report on the alleged attack, one count for each time he gave a report to three different officers. The class four felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said that if Smollett is found guilty, he will likely be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism