Jussie Smollett, 39, is charged with six counts of disorderly conduct on suspicion of making false reports to police.
Jussie Smollett — actor, who is Black and gay, has repeatedly denied staging an attack on himself, insisting two men struck him, yelled anti-gay and racist remarks, put a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him on a cold January 2019 night in the Windy City.
A disorderly conduct charge for a false crime report is a Class 4 felony in Illinois, punishable by up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine. A judge would determine whether convictions on multiple counts would yield sentences to run concurrently or consecutively.
Police have argued evidence — including texts and accounts from two Smollett acquaintances — point to Smollett paying the pair to rough him up, so he could attract publicity and a career boost — a narrative Smollett has denied.
He has pleaded not guilty.
Defense counsel Nenye Uche opened directly to the jury, saying there was an “elephant” in the courtroom, and “we shall name this elephant: assumptions.”
“Jussie Smollett is a victim — it’s a shame I have to say it,” said Uche. “This rush to judgment has destroyed Jussie’s life.”
Uche painted a different picture of the Osundairos, claiming the brothers did not see Smollett as a friend, but instead as a “mark” or “target.”
Smollett is “cloaked” with the presumption of innocence, Uche said, adding he has no doubt the jury will “come to the same conclusion we came to — not guilty.”
Police reviewed video from numerous city and private sector surveillance cameras. None captured the alleged attack itself — but investigators focused on footage of two people in the area at the time of the reported incident.
According to prosecutor, that month, Smollett told one of the brothers he was disappointed in the “Empire” team’s reaction to the letter.
So, Smollett paid the brothers $3,500 to attack him, to take “advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Johnson alleged when announcing the initial charges.
Investigators obtained a check Smollett used to pay Abimbola Osundairo, prosecutors said at the time.
To bolster their case, authorities cited text messages and records of phone calls between the parties. The alleged plot’s electronic trail dated to January 25, 2019, when Smollett texted Abimbola Osundairo and said, “Might need your help on the low. You around to talk face to face?” prosecutors alleged.