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As the testimony in the Jussie Smollett case comes to a close, the attorneys for both sides argue about motive

Jussie Smollett’s testimony in the trial to determine whether or not he lied to police about having been the victim of a hate crime came to a conclusion on Tuesday after the actor was interrogated extensively by the prosecution about his contacts with his assailants soon before the incident.

Deliberations in the case are expected to begin on Wednesday, following the conclusion of closing arguments and six days of testimony in which two brothers claimed Mr. Smollett staged the attack as a publicity stunt, and the actor characterised them as “rank liars.” Mr. Smollett has retained that he really do not stage the attack.

Abimbola Osundairo and Olabinjo Osundairo’s brother, Mr. Smollett, defended himself against charges that he plotted the attack with them in the days and hours before the 2019 attack on the Empire Theater in Chicago, claiming that their interactions were “harmless.”

He said that during one encounter two days before the attack, he and Abimbola Osundairo had merely been smoking marijuana as Mr. Smollett drove the brothers about Chicago before a planned gym session with Jussie Smollett. He said that he had hired Abimbola Osundairo to assist him in becoming “ripped” for a song video.

However, the prosecution took issue with his explanation and interrogated him on Tuesday about why their vehicle continued to circle the area where the assault subsequently took place, according to court documents.

The special prosecutor in the case, Daniel K. Webb, questioned Mr. Smollett about why he had continued to update Abimbola Osundairo about delays to his trip return to Chicago in the late-night hours of January 28, 2019, just before the assault took place.

The brothers have claimed that Mr. Smollett was keeping them informed of the delay so that they might shift the timing of their scheduled assault on him, which took place at around 2 a.m., back an hour or two.

Although Mr. Webb observed that there were no follow-up messages or emails cancelling the exercise, which was planned for the morning of Jan. 29, after the assault, he did not believe this was the case. He inquired of Mr. Smollet as to whether Abimbola Osundairo had arrived for her scheduled appointment that morning.

Also testifying was Mr. Smollett who stated that he had been updating his Instagram followers on the night of the attack and that Abimbola Osundairo was not the only person who had messaged him directly about the attack, implying that the messages did not indicate that they were involved in planning the attack.

On Tuesday, Mr. Smollett’s brothers testified about how Mr. Smollett detailed in detail the planned assault after expressing dissatisfaction with the way the producers of the television show in which he stars, “Empire,” hadn’t taken a death threat he received in the mail more seriously.

His assailants used racial and homophobic comments against him, and he reported the incident as a hate crime. Mr. Smollett, 39, has pleaded not guilty to numerous charges of disorderly conduct stemming from his decision to report the attack as a hate crime. In their legal arguments, the Osundairo brothers claim that they assaulted him in order to intimidate him into engaging them as his security detail. In his testimony on Monday, Mr. Smollett said that Abimbola Osundairo repeatedly requested to serve as his bodyguard, even after he had received the threatening letter.

prosecutors claim that the brothers merely beat Mr. Smollett up enough to bruise him but not badly damage him, and that they tied a rope around his neck in the shape of a noose in order to make it seem as if he had been the victim of a hate crime, according to court documents. According to Mr. Smollett’s statement on Tuesday, the severity of his injuries was severe enough to leave him with a scar beneath his right eye that hasn’t faded since the incident.

Much of Mr. Webb’s questioning centred on the events of Jan. 27, when the Osundairo brothers claim Mr. Smollett drove them to a crossroads near his apartment building and pointed out the location where he intended the assault to take place, according to the brothers.

He testified that on that day, he had gone to pick up Abimbola Osundairo for a workout session, and when Olabinjo Osundairo unexpectedly arrived at the pickup location, Mr. Smollett claimed he used an upcoming television interview to justify cancelling the workout and driving the brothers back to their home.

The prosecution also touched on what the police believe to be an inconsistency in Mr. Smollett’s storey: that in his first two interviews with the police, he described one of his attackers as white, but later changed his storey to say he was pale-skinned; this is something the police believe Mr. Smollett knows about. Mr. Smollett said that he thought the assailant was white because of the racial epithet he used and the fact that he shouted, “This is MAGA country,” which was a reference to former President Donald J. Trump’s campaign slogan, led him to believe that he was.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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