On Monday, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett took the stand in his own defense against allegations that he staged a hate crime attack against himself in Illinois in January 2019.
According to The Chicago Tribune, defense attorneys started by questioning Smollett, 39, about his upbringing and family.
Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly staging a hate crime targeting himself in Chicago and then reporting it to police. At the time, it was believed he was leaving a Subway at 2 a.m. when he was attacked by two white men wearing ski masks—one of whom yelled, “Aren’t you that f**** ‘Empire’ n****r?”
Since then, prosecutors alleged Smollett paid brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo $3,500 to stage the apparent hate crime assault.
Smollett testified on Monday that he met Abimbola Osundairo at a club while filming season four of “Empire.” He said they used cocaine and marijuana together before going to a bathhouse in Boystown, where they did more drugs and kissed.
Abimbola Osundairo testified last week that he and Smollett never dated and he did not detect any sexual tension between them. He also said he was not gay and that he was only friends with Smollett, Fox News reported.
Smollett also testified on Monday that he and Abimbola Osundairo were friends and they would drive around smoking blunts, according to the Tribune.
Before Smollett’s testimony, defense attorneys called to the stand a security guard who was working nearby the night of the attack. The guard said he saw what he believed was a white man in a ski mask walk towards him and a second person whose face he could not see.
According to the Tribune, the guard also testified that he saw a third individual who was on all fours by some steps. The guard explained that in January 2020, he signed a statement special prosecutors drafted up. The statement claimed the guard possibly misidentified one of the suspects due to a flashlight he shined into the man’s face.
However, the guard testified on Monday that he signed the statement because prosecutors intimidated him, according to the Tribune.
During prior hearings, the defense suggested the Osundairos, who are Black, were Smollett’s attackers — and they had help from accomplices who were possibly white.
The Tribune reported that juror deliberations could begin today or tomorrow, regardless of whether Smollett takes the stand.
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[Featured image: Jussie Smollett/AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast]