The state rested its case at Jussie Smollett’s trial Thursday after key testimony from two brothers who said the former “Empire” actor plotted a racist and anti-gay attack on himself in downtown Chicago and paid them to carry it out.
After a three-day presentation of evidence, special prosecutor Dan Webb told the presiding judge Thursday evening that the prosecution was finished. The defense began its case immediately, calling Brandon Moore, Smollett’s music manager at the time.
Earlier in the day, Smollett’s lawyer worked to discredit the brothers’ accounts, suggesting they attacked Smollett because they didn’t like him, and tried to get him to pay them each $1 million not to testify that he staged the assault.
Defense attorney Shay Allen suggested the brothers were motivated to accuse Smollett of staging the hoax because they disliked the performer — who is gay and Black — and then saw an opportunity to make money.
Olabingo Osundairo’s testimony echoed the account his brother, Abimbola Osundairo, gave on the witness stand a day earlier, including that Smollett wanted the brothers to douse him with gasoline and put a noose around his neck, and that Smollett gave them a $100 bill to buy the supplies and paid them with a $3,500 check.
Olabingo Osundairo said Smollett told him he received hate mail at the TV studio in Chicago “and he had this crazy idea of having two MAGA supporters attack him,” an apparent reference to then-President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” Osundairo believed the plan was to publicize the attack on social media, not to involve police, he said.
They opted to pour bleach on Smollett, Osundairo said, because he wasn’t comfortable using gasoline. He said Smollett wanted his brother to do the punching, and that it should look like he fought back.
Osundairo also addressed the defense contention that the brothers were driven by homophobia. He testified that he has nothing against gays and the jury was shown a photo of the siblings taking part in Chicago’s 2015 gay pride parade dressed as trojan warriors.
Smollett, 39, is charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for making what prosecutors say was a false police report about the alleged attack on Jan. 29, 2019 — one count for each time he gave 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 convicted he likely would be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.
Olabingo Osundairo also denied a white person was involved, or that he and his brother even wore masks or makeup to make it appear they were white. In statements that were widely ridiculed because …….