CHICAGO — Former “Empire” amateur Jussie Smollett denied Monday that he staged an anti-gay, racist advance on himself, testifying at his balloon that “there was no hoax” and that he was the victim of a abhorrence abomination in his city Chicago neighborhood.
Smollett, who faces accuse that he aria to Chicago badge about the January 2019 attack, approved to abnegate damaging affidavit from two brothers aftermost week. They said Smollett, who is gay and Black, orchestrated the hoax to get publicity, giving them $100 for food and instructing them to abode a asphyxiate about his close and bawl homophobic slurs. They additionally said Smollett gave them a $3,500 analysis to backpack it out.
Smollett appeared calm throughout several hours of testimony, adage he wrote the $3,500 analysis to Abimbola Osundairo for diet and training advice. Asked by his aegis advocate if he gave Osundairo acquittal for some affectionate of hoax, Smollett replied: “Never.”
Attorney Nenye Uche asked afresh if he planned a hoax.
“No,” Smollett said, “there was no hoax.”
He additionally said “absolutely not” aback asked if he gave Osundairo and his brother $100 to pay for food for the affected attack.
Smollett told jurors he had aloof alternate from a cruise and was walking home afterwards affairs a sandwich about 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2019, aback addition yelled a racist, homophobic remark. Smollett said he angry about to accost the person, who he said towered over him.
Standing up in the Chicago courtroom, Smollett approved how he said the man absolved bound adjoin him, again acicular to his larboard temple to appearance area the man hit him.
“I would like to anticipate I landed a punch. But I don’t apperceive if it landed,” Smollett said. He said he slipped and they tussled on the arena for up to 30 seconds. Smollett said he saw a additional being — who he believes kicked him on his ancillary — as that being ran away.
Smollett said he affected the being who attacked him was white because he acclimated a ancestral accusation and shouted “MAGA country,” an credible advertence to then-President Donald Trump’s advance slogan, “Make America Great Again.” The brothers, Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, who are Black, testified aftermost anniversary that Smollett instructed them to bawl “this is MAGA country” during the affected assault.
Smollett said he best up his buzz and told the being he had been talking to that he “got jumped.” He testified that he noticed he had a asphyxiate about his close as he alternate to his apartment. Smollett said he removed the asphyxiate but a acquaintance who was at his accommodation declared badge and told him to put the asphyxiate aback on so admiral could see it. Smollett said he was agitated badge had been declared because he would never accept done so.
“I am a Black man in America. I do not assurance the police,” Smollett said. “I am additionally a able-bodied accepted amount at that time and I am an aboveboard gay man.”
Smollett said afterwards account bankrupt that anybody — including Trump — had an assessment about what happened, and that he hated the attention.
“I’ve absent my livelihood,” he added.
Under cross-examination, Smollett said he banned to accord Chicago badge his cellphone for their analysis because he capital his privacy. Asked by appropriate prosecutor Dan Webb if he was anxious the buzz would appearance several calls to Abimbola Osundairo, Smollett said no.
Smollett additionally testified that Osundairo told him he could get an herbal steroid that encourages weight accident but is actionable in the U.S.” on the low” — or secretly — while he was on an accessible cruise to Nigeria.
Osundairo testified that Smollett beatific him a argument bulletin about talking “on the low,” and that during the chat Smollett asked him about allowance to date the attack. Smollett said Monday that bulletin was in advertence to the actionable steroid.
When Webb asked about Osundairo’s affidavit that Smollett recruited him for a hoax, Smollett replied: “Fully false, 100% false.”
Defense attorneys accept appropriate that the Osundairo brothers accused Smollett of staging the hoax because they awful him and again saw an befalling to accomplish money. They appropriate that afterwards the brothers were questioned by badge about the declared attack, they asked Smollett for $1 actor anniversary to not affirm adjoin him at trial.
Smollett’s attorneys additionally accept argued that Chicago badge rushed to acumen aback they brought accuse adjoin Smollett.
Smollett said he met Abimbola Osundairo in 2017 at a club, area he abstruse Osundairo additionally formed on the “Empire” set. He said the two men did drugs calm and went to a bathhouse, area Smollett said they “made out.” He said the two men after did added drugs and alternate in sex acts together. Osundairo testified aftermost anniversary that he and Smollett did not accept a animal relationship.
Smollett testified that he met Abimbola’s brother, Olabingo, but that they didn’t speak. He said Abimbola Osundairo fabricated it assume like they bare to “sneak off” aback they were calm about his brother. Smollett said he never trusted Olabingo Osundairo.
Prosecutors say Smollett staged the advance because he was black with the “Empire” studio’s acknowledgment to abhorrence mail he received. The letter included a cartoon of a stick amount blind by a noose, with a gun acicular at it, and the chat “MAGA.”
Brett Mahoney, who produced “Empire” in Chicago, testified Monday that law administration was contacted and the letter angry over to authorities. He said Smollett agreed to added on-set security, but didn’t appetite anyone afterward him home because it was too intrusive.
Smollett testified that he anticipation the flat was accomplishing or suggesting too abundant security, such as absent addition to drive him to and from the set. He said Abimbola Osundairo joked about acceptable his security, but that he didn’t booty it seriously.
Also Monday, aegis bouncer Anthony Moore said that about the time of the declared assault, he saw a being on the arena at the end of the block and two men running, one of whom was white. Moore said he told badge what he saw, but aback he was after questioned by the appropriate prosecutor he acquainted pressured to change his story. Moore testified that he active a account that said the being was “possibly” a Black man, but that he acquainted “pressure and threatened to put article out there that I didn’t see.”
Under cross-examination, Moore said he alone saw the man for one to two seconds. He additionally said he anticipation the men were bluffing around, and that the two men were bedlam as they ran by him.
Smollett, 39, is answerable with six counts of abomination chaotic conduct for authoritative what prosecutors say was a apocryphal badge address about the declared advance — one calculation for anniversary time he gave a address — to three altered officers. The chic 4 abomination carries a bastille book of up to three years, but experts accept said if Smollett is bedevilled he acceptable would be placed on acquittal and ordered to accomplish association service.
Check out the AP’s complete advantage of the Jussie Smollett case.
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