Jussie Smollett’s lawyer alleges prosecution witness asked actor for $ 2 million
The testimony of brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo closed the prosecution case against Jussie Smollett on Thursday, the fourth day of the former “Empire” star’s trial for lying to police about a hate crime near his downtown apartment.
The couple were the backbone of the case against Smollett, who was accused of making false reports to police shortly after the Osundairos confessed to being hired to organize the attack as part of a publicity stunt orchestrated by the actor.
Smollett’s defense team also began calling witnesses Thursday night, including his former music director Brandon Moore, who said he was on the phone with the actor when the alleged attack occurred and has heard someone use a homosexual slur and then get into a fight.
Moore said the actor told him he was jumped and “looked panicked” and “out of breath” as he ran home.
Last Thursday, Judge James Linn told jurors, who worked nearly 12 hours a day during the trial, that they would take their leave on Friday and the trial would resume on Monday and potentially end on Tuesday.
The Osundairo brothers each testified on Thursday that Smollett recruited them and choreographed the attack at the actor’s request.
Speaking earlier Thursday after his younger brother finished his testimony, Olabinjo Osundairo described getting into the backseat of Smollett’s SUV days before the attack and quickly becoming an accomplice.
âJussie first asked me if he could trust me, and of course I told him he could,â said Olabinjo Osundairo, who had prepared nutrition plans for the actor who was was befriended his brother.
“He had this crazy idea that two MAGA Trump supporters would attack him so he could get the footage and put it on social media so he could show the ‘Empire’ studio.”
Both aspiring actors, the brothers came across as fairly flat during their time at the helm, even under the harsh questions of Smollett’s lawyers. They were largely unwavering in their accounts of Smollett’s role at the center of the planning of the hoax.
Smollett, they said, called for a beating that wouldn’t leave lasting wounds, researched the location and even scripted the racist and homophobic taunts the couple had to shout before attacking him.
The actor handed them $ 100 with instructions to buy red “Make America Great Hats” and get a rope to hang over his head like a noose and gasoline to pour over his clothes. Olabinjo Osundairo just made a suggestion, replacing gasoline with bleach.
âI didn’t think it was safe to pour gasoline on someone,â he said.
Elder Osundairo’s testimony largely mirrored his brother’s description of the plan and the 2 a.m. assault a few days later near Smollett’s apartment in Streeterville. Olabinjo 0sundairo had to tie a noose over Smollett’s head, while his brother, who knew the actor better, had to deal with manhandling Smollett.
“I think I joked that I should be the one doing it, but he said he didn’t think he could trust me to hold back my punches,” said Olabinjo Osundairo.
The defense attempted to portray the brothers as opportunists who sought to make themselves look good by Smollett and then took advantage of him.
Defense attorney Shay Allen has peppered Abimbola Osundario with questions about alleged attempts to cash in on his ties to Smollett, including seeking book deals and seeking to be paid for interviews. Finally, Allen asked if he asked the actor $ 1 million each for him and his brother not to testify or retract their statements and say that Smollett was not involved at all.
The brothers denied asking for money not to testify.
Allen also sought to characterize Abimbola Osundairo’s relationship with Smollett as more than friendship. Asked by Allen, Abimbola Osundairo admitted that he and openly gay Smollett had visited a public bathhouse in Boystown several times, although he said he was unsure whether the facility catered to men. homosexuals.
“Haven’t you seen the big rainbow flag?” Allen said, noting that gay pornographic films were also shown on a TV near the entrance.
Defense lawyer Tamara Walker also used a handful of text messages between the brothers to portray them as homophobic, but Olabinjo Osundairo testified that he worked as a bouncer at bars in Boystown, and prosecutors showed photos of the brothers. two brothers marching in the Gay Pride Parade four years before the alleged attack, dressed in “Trojan Warrior” costumes and throwing condoms at spectators.
The questioning led to a tense exchange between Walker and Judge James Linn when he told him to move on from a question as to whether Smollett was aware of Olabinjo Osundairo’s comments on social media and in private messages that included derogatory names for a homosexual.
Walker accused the judge of “rushing” at her and throwing her questions out to the jury. As the jury was kicked out of the room, defense lawyer Heather Widell said she saw the judge make a “rude” face during questioning and asked the judge to declare the trial set aside. , which Linn refused.