CHICAGO (CBS) — Jussie Smollett’s defense team rested their case on Tuesday, after the actor claimed the Osundairo brothers — the key prosecution witnesses in the case — asked him for $2 million to “go away” and say there were not involved in any hoax.
Smollett said Abel and Ola Osundairo — who have said Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage a fake hate crime against him — told him after the incident that they were willing to publicly say they were not part of any hoax if he paid them $1 million each.READ MORE: 'I Missed Him The Whole Time': Chicago Family Grateful As Father Recovers From Shooting, Attempted Carjacking
Smollett said the brothers did not contact him directly with their request for $2 million, rather claiming an Osundairo representative reached out to a representative of Smollett.
However, Smollett said he never paid them any money. Earlier at trial, Abel Osundairo denied asking Smollett for $1 million each for him and his brother not to testify against Smollett.
Smollett first took the stand Monday, describing his alleged attack and claiming he was the victim of an actual hate crime in January 2019.
During his two days on the stand, Smollett has told jurors he paid the Osundairo brothers $3,500 to help him with training and nutrition advice, not to stage a fake hate crime against himself.
Smollett, who once starred on the hit show “Empire,” faces six counts of disorderly conduct, accused of orchestrating a fake attack against himself nearly three years ago, and then lying to police about it, in a bid for publicity.
Smollett, who is Black and gay, had told police he was attacked as he was walking home in Streeterville around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2019. He claimed two masked men – one of them also wearing a red hat – shouted racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured a chemical on him. Police and prosecutors have said Smollett orchestrated it himself, paying the Osundairo brothers $3,500 to help stage the attack, because he was unhappy with “Empire” producers’ response to hate mail he had received.
As special prosecutor Dan Webb questioned Smollett on Tuesday about video of him picking up the Smollett brothers at their days before the attack, for what the brothers have claimed was a “dry run” for the attack, Smollett again denied recruiting Ola Osundairo to stage a hoax.
“As I have said for the past three years, I deny that. That never happened,” Smollett testified. “To answer all your questions about the hoax, I am going to deny. There was no hoax.”
Smollett said he and the brothers drove from Lakeview to Streeterville, where they planned to work out, but ended up scrapping that plan. Instead, they ended up just driving around and smoking weed. Smollett admitted they ended up driving past the staircase where the attack later occurred three or four times, but he insisted there was nothing unusual about them just driving around and smoking pot.
However, the Osundairo brothers have testified they were actually scouting out the location before staging the attack.
Special prosecutor presses Smollett and refers to the staircase where Smollett said the attack happened.
Smollett sounds impatient and chimes in.
“The intersection where the attack *did occur”
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) December 7, 2021
Webb also questioned Smollett about the night of the attack, when Smollett flew into Chicago from New York. Smollett sent Abel Osundairo several messages on Instagram that night, and testified he was keeping in touch because they had a training session scheduled, and his flight was repeatedly delayed.
Prosecutors have contended Smollett and the Osundairo brothers were planning out a staged attack, but Smollett again denied planning a hoax.
“You deny that you told brothers to be there at 2 a.m.?” Webb asked, referring to the site of the attack.
“That’s a bold-faced lie,” Smollett testified.READ MORE: 1 New York City Police Officer, Suspect Killed In Harlem Shooting
When asked if he was testifying the two masked men who attacked him were the Osundairo brothers, Smollett said, “No, I don’t know that. There’s no way for me to know that, Mr. Webb.”
Asked how he didn’t recognize Abel Osundairo’s physical build and voice during the attack, Smollett said things happened fast, and he wasn’t thinking in the moment to ask “is that you?”
Webb also showed Smollett a community alert Chicago police later issued, showing surveillance images of two “persons of interest” in the attack, noting the Osundairo brothers have admitted they are the men in the images. Asked if he has any reason to doubt the Osundairo brothers when they said it was them walking that night, Smollett said, “I doubt every word they say.”
Smollett said he assumed his attackers were white, because he saw pale skin around the eyeholes of their ski masks, and because they used racial slurs.
Smollett now shown community alert of "Persons of interest."
Osundairo testified that it was them in the grainy surveillance image.
Webb: Do you doubt them when they say it was them walking?
Smollett: I doubt every word they say.
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) December 7, 2021
Prosecutors asked if Smollett thought his hoax attack would be more credible if he was attacked by white men.
Smollett responded, “You would have to ask someone who actually planned a fake hate crime.”
Supporters of Smollett say they are proud of his strength during the trial and are confident in the jury.
“Jussie could have easily copped a plea, gotten a slap on the wrist, and then moved on with his life,” said family friend Fania Davis. “But he chose instead to stand up to injustice.”
Smollett testified to removing the rope from his neck and then putting it back on before police arrived, so officers could see it for themselves.
But in a nationally televised interview just weeks after the reported incident, Smollett said he never took the rope off his neck. On the stand, Smollett was questioned about the inconsistencies.
“The character assassination of Jussie is an injury to his personal reputation, his career, and his soul,” said Davis. “He has lost many opportunities.”
Smollett wrapped up his testimony early Tuesday afternoon, and his defense team then called their last witness, the Uber driver who picked up the Osundairo brothers in Lakeview the night of the attack.
The Uber driver said he believed he heard the brothers talking on the phone as he drove them south from Lakeview, and they later changed the destination of their ride, contradicting the brothers’ earlier testimony that they did not have their phones with them during that ride, because Smollett asked them not to bring them. However, the driver said he never actually saw them with a phone.
The defense rested its case Tuesday afternoon.MORE NEWS: No One In Custody As Investigation Continues Into Hit-And-Run That Killed Retired Police Officer Richard Haljean In Edison Park
Closing arguments will be presented on Wednesday morning, after which the case will go to the jury.