“Empire” actor takes position in alleged fake Streeterville attack – .

“Empire” actor takes position in alleged fake Streeterville attack – .

CHICAGO (WLS) – After two brothers spent hours telling a jury how Jussie Smollett paid them to carry out a fake racist and anti-gay attack on himself in downtown Chicago, the actor spoke to testify in his own defense on Monday. The courtroom was full on Monday pending the actor’s testimony on the witness stand.
Smollett, who is one of six children in his family, testified that he grew up doing commercials as a child actor. He said that at the age of 8 his family moved to Los Angeles where he finally focused on music.

He also described how, as a young adult, he often took the bus to work as a waiter, in retail and also as a clown. Smollett said he would also live in Europe for months while trying to work in clubs as a musician, “and kept trying.”

The former “Empire” actor was then asked about his time on the show, where he reportedly earned $ 100,000 per episode before being fired.

He told jurors he met Bola Osundairo through a security contact and then they became friends. He testified that they used drugs and dated, including in a gay bathhouse.

Before the actor took the stand, his defense team first called a security guard to testify.

Anthony Moore told the jury he was working a night shift at the Sheraton on January 28, 2019, when he saw two men running. He said one was a white man, he testified that he could see in the distance a third man bending or crawling on the ground. He said he told the Chicago police a couple of times what he saw, and when questioned by a member of the special prosecutor’s office, he felt compelled to “say something. that I have not seen ”.

Jurors also watched surveillance video of the incident, and the “Empire” executive producer testified about a hate letter against Smollett that increased the actor’s safety on and off set.

Earlier today, members of the public were unable to enter the courtroom due to overwhelming interest in the trial, as well as COVID restrictions. After a break, Judge Linn resorted to adding chairs in the hallway to accommodate those who wanted to be in court. The judge later told the jury that a camera had been set up to feed testimony in a busy courtroom.

The reasons Smollett might want to testify begin with the oddity of the case. During the trial which began last Monday, emerged the story of a TV star who chose two brothers as his attackers, gave them a dialogue to recite and paid for the rope he gave them. said to fashion a slipknot and a loop around her neck.

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Strange as it may sound, this is the only account that has reached the jury of siblings, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo. And some legal experts say the only chance Smollett has to beat the charges of lying to police is to tell jurors his version of what happened on January 29, 2019.

Terry Ekl, a prominent Chicago-area defense attorney not involved in the case, and other legal experts said jurors are not expected to read anything in a defendant’s decision not to not testify, but that when they return to the deliberation room, they often do.

As for the importance of the testimony of one accused, legal experts said that there was nothing more to look for than the recent trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges. charges after saying he shot two men and injured another because he feared for his own life.

“They won the case by putting it,” said Kathleen Zellner, Chicago-area defense attorney. “The jury believed him.

WATCH: Jussie Smollett case ‘has been incredibly painful’, says brother

In Smollett’s case, it may be important for him to testify because, as bizarre as the brothers’ testimony is, they are the only witnesses to the incident who testified. And, said Chicago-based defense attorney Joe Lopez, Smollett’s attorneys “haven’t been able to remove these brothers.”

They also failed to locate a white person whom a woman told police saw carrying a rope in the area earlier that night, leaving the brothers and Smollett as the only three people the jury can conclude know. what happened.

“I think they just want to hear her story and if they don’t, the only one they have is the prosecution story,” said David Erickson, a former state appeals judge who teaches at Chicago Kent College of Law.

Another reason Smollett might want to testify: he should be good at it.

” It’s an actor. He should testify, ”Lopez said.

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Erickson said that when he teaches legal advocacy he makes it clear from the start that jurors vote for the people they love. Right now, he said, he’s sure they like Special Prosecutor Dan Webb. “Dan Webb is Everyman, he seems like a nice guy, a good neighbor next door. “

However, they do not know Smollett and have not heard his voice since he appeared for jury selection.

But testifying could pose all kinds of problems for Smollett, starting with his need to explain how the brothers knew they would meet him in the middle of an extremely cold night in an unfamiliar neighborhood on his way home from a sandwich shop. . Unless he told them he would be there.

Plus, if he’s found guilty, Smollett’s words could get him even more trouble.

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“You cannot be penalized (by a judge) for not having testified, but if he speaks up and the judge thinks he has perjured himself, he can add a sentence (jail or jail) Said Erickson.

What to expect from the Jussie Smollett trial

Smollett’s defense began its case Thursday night, calling witnesses including the actor’s musical director and a doctor at Northwestern Hospital.

The question is not whether the attack took place, but whether Smollett organized it with the help of two brothers he knew.

Brandon Moore testified that he was on the phone with Smollett when the attack occurred.

Emergency doctor Robert Turelli said Smollett’s injuries were severe enough to order an x-ray and a CT scan, both of which revealed no major injuries.

The state’s two star witnesses in Jussie Smollett’s trial both appeared on Thursday. Brothers Bola and Ola Osundairo faced tough questions from both sides, but especially from the defense council trying to discredit their claim, Smollett enlisted them to stage a hate crime attack against him.

Defense lawyer Shay Allen asked Osundairo if he was selling drugs to Smollett and guns found in Osundairo’s home when police searched him. Osundairo said he bought drugs for Smollett when the actor asked him to, but added, “I’m not a drug dealer, I don’t sell. “

SEE MORE: Jussie Smollett trial: Prosecution closes case after star witness of Osundairo brothers testifies

Allen also questioned the motivation behind Osundairo’s interactions with Smollett, suggesting that they were dating, that Smollett wanted Osundairo to provide him with illegal supplements in the United States, and that the aspiring actor – who worked as substitute on “Empire” – wanted a high-paying job as the security of Smollett.

Allen also suggested that Smollett was not involved in the alleged attack plot and that the brothers acted on their own.

Smollett’s legal team needed to question Wednesday’s damaging Osundairo testimony, but it was no easy task.

The defense claimed the siblings used to make anti-gay remarks on social media and on the “Empire” set, and targeted Smollett, who is openly gay.

Osundairo stayed true to his story on Thursday, while also denying sex with Smollett and asking the actor to engage him. And much of what Osundairo told jurors about the event on January 29, 2019 appears to be corroborated by videos and other evidence.

During re-examination, Osundairo said he and his brother agreed because he felt indebted to Smollett for helping him in his acting career.

Smollett, 39, 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 every time he made a report – to three different officers. The Class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said if Smollett is found guilty he will likely be placed on probation and ordered to do community service.

A defense attorney told jurors at the openings that Smollett was a “real victim” and that the brothers’ accounts are unreliable.

Defense lawyer Nenye Uche said the brothers attacked Smollett, who is black and gay, “because of who he is” and suggested the brothers were homophobic.

The trial is expected to end this week.

Smollett pleaded not guilty.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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