Who is Jussie Smollett? 'Empire' actor accused of staging racist, homophobic Streeterville attack in 2019
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The charges against former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett are now in the jury's hands as the trial wrapped up Wednesday.
Both prosecution and defense gave their closing arguments Wednesday morning. The jury got the case shortly before 2:45 p.m. One juror had a prior commitment and had to leave by 5:15, and shortly after 5 p.m. the judge dismissed jurors for the day, ending their first day of deliberations without reaching a verdict.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb wove together seven days of testimony and evidence, including statements from Chicago police officers, the Osundairo brothers and Smollett.
"In January 2019, Mr. Smollett developed this plan to create a fake hate crime, then reported it as a real crime to the Chicago Police Department," Webb said.
He told the jury Smollett is not credible and said he was "tailoring his testimony." He detailed places where he argued Smollett changed his story, and emphasized Smollett's reluctance to participate in the CPD investigation.
Webb even went so far as to call part of Smollett's story "ridiculous," asking why Smollett was at the intersection at 2 a.m. He told the jury he went to get eggs because Bola Osundairo told him to eat more eggs. But the drug store Smollett said he went to was closed.
"In January 2019, Mr. Smollett developed this plan to create a fake hate crime, then reported it as a real crime to the Chicago Police Department," Webb said. "Mr. Smollett didn't want the crime solved. ... He told the brothers he wanted the media attention."
During the defense's closing arguments, Smollett's attorney Nenye Uche described the case as crazy and Smollett as innocent and calling the Osundairo brothers "con man" "liars" "criminals" who wanted money from the actor.
"They are trying to twist his (Smollett's) words," Uche said. "Jussie was injured! Those were real injuries!"
In court Tuesday, Smollett finished testifying on his own behalf before both sides rested.
"The question is, do they believe him? Does the jury believe him or do they not? He can't be telling the truth and the brothers also be telling the truth at the same time. One of them is lying; the jury's going to have to figure that out," ABC7 Chicago legal analyst Gil Soffer said.
Smollett repeatedly denied that he staged a homophobic and racist attack on himself during hours of testimony at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
If he's convicted, Smollett's words on the stand could land him in yet more trouble.
"You can't be penalized (by a judge) for not testifying but if he takes the stand and the judge believes he perjured himself, he can add (jail or prison) time," said David Erickson, a former state appellate judge who teaches at Chicago Kent College of Law.
Smollett claimed he was in touch with one of the men accused of helping him stage the alleged attack in January 2019 because they were supposed to work out together.
Last week the Osundairo brothers, accused in the plot, testified Smollett asked them to fake that attack and even paid them for supplies to carry it out.
The jury could get the case later Wednesday. They will decide if the prosecution made its case to prove Smollett lied to Chicago police officers about an alleged hate crime.
Prosecutors contend the former "Empire" star was upset his TV studio didn't take seriously a threatening letter he'd reported, and so he hatched a plan for the fake attack.
But Smollett testified the studio, in fact, wanted to hire security for him and he turned it down because it was too intrusive.
The actor's defense attorneys have insisted Smollett is a real victim in the alleged Streeterville attack.
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 - 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.
Smollett has pleaded not guilty.
Associated Press contributed to this report.