CHICAGO – The man Jussie Smollett allegedly paid to help stage a hate crime spoke in the actor’s criminal trial on Wednesday, describing how he participated in the hoax because he believed the star of “Empire” could help push his own acting career.
Abimbola Osundairo, 28, told jurors in Chicago Criminal Court on day three of the trial how Smollett had directed nearly every aspect of the alleged bogus attack, racial and homophobic slurs that he and his brother, Olabinjo, were to use until ‘who should throw the punches.
“He explained that he wanted me to pretend to beat him,” Osundairo said.
“I agreed to do it because, more importantly, I felt indebted to him, to Jussie,” Osundairo said.
Osundairo and his brother are at the center of the sensational trial as star prosecution witnesses after telling police they were paid $ 3,500 to help the former ‘Empire’ star organize the hate crime on a frosty night in January 2019. Smollett’s team denies the allegations and says the men intended to attack him.
Smollett faces six counts of the disorderly conduct misdemeanor for lying to the police and if convicted he faces up to three years in prison.
Abimbola, who also worked on the set of “Empire,” said he and Smollett met through mutual friends in 2017 and over the next year and a half they became extremely close as they spent time together smoking weed, visiting strip clubs and spending sleepovers at the star’s Streeterville skyscraper.
At around 9 a.m. on January 25, 2019, Abimbola said he had received a curious text message from Smollett asking for his help “downstairs” and if he was available to meet “face to face” to chat.
Later that afternoon, Smollett picked up Abimbola and from the front seat of the actor’s Mercedes Benz the infamous plan was worked out, he said.
“He asked me if he could trust me and I replied, I said ‘yes’ then he explained that the studio did not take the mail seriously, the hate mail he received anymore. early, ”Abimbola said, referring to a threatening letter. Smollett claimed it was sent to her at the “Empire” studio.
“I was confused, I looked puzzled, and then he explained that he wanted me to pretend to beat him,” he continued. “He told me we would need another person to pretend to beat him and he told me my brother could do it?” I said yes. “
Smollett then drove Abimbola back to his neighborhood where they picked up his brother.
“He told Ola that he would like us to pretend to beat him, and then we went through the details of what he wanted us to say and do,” said Abimbola.
“He first mentioned the words he wanted to be said to him, like ‘Empire’, ‘f – t’, ‘n – r’, ‘MAGA’, then he said he wanted I attack him. He wanted me to hit him, but he wanted me to pull the shot so as not to hurt him, ”he continued.
“Then he wanted him to look like he was fighting, so I was supposed to give him a chance to fight, and then finally toss him to the ground and my brother would tie the noose around his neck and pour water on him. bleach on him. ”
In less than ten minutes, the plans were made and a dress rehearsal was set two days later, Abimbola told jurors.
Across the room, Smollett, wearing a light blue shirt and burgundy tie, frowned as he watched Abimbola testify about the alleged “running”.
On Sunday January 27, the day before the attack, Abimbola said Smollett picked up the two brothers and took them to his neighborhood where he indicated the exact spot where he wanted the alleged hoax to be carried out.
“He said there would be a camera to capture the fake attack, that he wanted a camera to capture the fake attack,” Abimbola said.
When asked by Special Prosecutor Dan Webb why he wanted the attack captured, Abimbola said Smollett “wanted to use the camera footage for the media.”
Webb repeatedly asked Abimbola why he had agreed to participate in the hoax, and he replied that he felt he owed Smollett.
“I mentioned to Ola that I felt indebted to Jussie and that he had helped me and that he could actually continue our acting career and Ola agreed,” Abimbola said of the moment.
Webb continued to question him on Wednesday evening.