The Jussie Smollett trial continues in Chicago. Yesterday, one of the brothers accused of launching the attack on the Empire actor denied being homophobic, saying he’d worked in a gay club as a bouncer. He’d also worked as a “Trojan Warrior” at a Pride festival, giving out condoms.
In a further twist, Smollett’s defense team also tried to call a mistrial, claiming the judge lunged at one of the attorneys during a sidebar meeting.
Smollett, an actor and singer, faces several counts of disorderly conduct for lying to the police. It relates to an alleged hate crime he says he suffered in January 2019.
Related: The never ending Jussie Smollett hate crime drama is finally heading into its final act
He claims he was beaten up by two men in masks. The men who took part in the attack, Nigerian brothers Abimbola ‘Abel’ and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo, say the whole thing was staged and initiated by Smollett.
Both Abel and Ola took the stand this week, with Abel giving four hours of testimony on Wednesday, followed by brother Ola on Thursday.
Smollett’s attorneys have suggested Ola was partly motivated to take part in the attack because he’s homophobic. They point to social media posts on the brothers’ phones which they say contain homophobic language, and reference gay men as “fruits.”
The defense claim the brothers are “sophisticated criminals” who set the attack up after pretending to befriend Smollett. The brothers deny this, saying the whole thing was the actor’s idea.
Here are some key points from the brothers’ testimonies over the last couple of days
• Ola Osundairo denies the defense team’s claims he is homophobic, pointing to the fact he worked as a bouncer in a gay club in Boystown between 2015 and 2018. He also brought a photo of himself at Chicago Pride in 2015, where he said he was a “Trojan Warrior”, giving out condoms and flexing his muscles for the crowd. “I have no hate for anybody,” he told the jury.
• Smollett’s team claim Ola’s brother, Abel, was having a sexual relationship with Smollett. Abel denied this. He admitted he acted as a middle-man in helping to get drugs (“weed, cocaine and molly”) for Smollett, and that the two men had visited strip clubs and a Chicago bathhouse together.
• Smollett’s defense team asked Abel, “When did you and Jussie start dating?” and if he remembered the time he and Smollett, “masturbated in a bathhouse” together. Abel replied, “What? We were never dating,” saying he’d simply wanted to befriend Smollett by hanging out with him.
• Smollett’s team asked Abel if he was using the sexual tension between him and Smollett to further his career. Abel said he wasn’t aware of any sexual tension. He said he was not gay and Smollett had never initiated sexual contact with him. When asked why he’d agreed to take part in the allegedly faked attack, he replied, “We were friends.”
• The brothers say Smollett came up with the idea for the hate-crime, and they went along with it because they felt like they owed him and wanted to continue to curry favor with him. They said Smollett had helped Abel get a walk-on part on Empire and he’d picked up the tab when they’d partied together.
• The brothers allege Smollett just wanted to influence producers of Empire: The actor received a piece of hate mail, which he felt the producers had not taken seriously. They thought Smollett was also staging it for media purposes, and say they had no idea he was going to report it as a hate crime to police.
• Olabinjo says the plan was for him to pour bleach over Smollett and put a noose around his neck, and for brother Abel to fake punch the actor. He said the initial plan was to use gasoline but Smollett dismissed this idea as too extreme. “He wanted us to say, ‘aren’t you that ‘Empire’ f***** n*****’ and ‘this is MAGA country,'” Ola testified. “He pretty much said he wanted to be bruised up so it looked like he was in a real fight.”
Related: Jussie Smollett’s sister slams hoax allegations: “I believe my brother”
Attempts to call for a mistrial
On Thursday afternoon, in a separate, unexpected development, one of Smollett’s attorneys called for a mistrial. Tamara Walker attempted several times to question Ola over the interpretation of social media posts that Smollett’s team says prove the brother is homophobic.
Cook County Criminal Judge James Lin repeatedly warned Walker that her specific line of argument was unrelated to the matters at hand. Linn asked the jury to leave the room and called for a sidebar between himself and the defense and prosecutors. This led to a heated exchange.
According to CBS Chicago, “Walker asked for a mistrial because of a comment that Judge Linn made, and then she began crying and accused Judge Linn of physically lunging at her in the courtroom.”
Linn dismissed the motion.
“There is no mistrial here… frankly I’m stunned,” Linn responded.
After taking a few moments to cool down, Walker continued to question Ola on the stand. The defense team asked for it to be noted on the court record that Linn was making “snarling faces” at Walker.
When the trial began on Monday, Judge Linn said he expected it to last a week.
It’s too bad this mess of a trial isn’t being televised (is it?) because it sounds quite entertaining.
Sister Bertha Bedderthanyu
Moving on here (as in regarding our previous conversation) the majority of the actors in the trailer appear to have been recruited off of myvidster.com but I’m going to hope for the best. I called what few friends I have that are still alive from 1994 and we all agree that the reason it took this long for it to see the light of day on the big screen was James Earl Hardy, the books author. In every appearance he kept on insinuating (more or less) that the character was based on him. He also did a play about Tiger Tyson (the porn star) that got decent reviews but for some reason or other went nowhere despite Tyson being at the height of his porn career more or less.
This sounds like one of those TV trials in a show where you think “This would never happen in a real trial.”
I’ve been to two trials like that and both were very serious. Claiming homophobia, gay panic, or a impartial judge/jury defense is a common tactic defense lawyers use.
I was thinking also of the lawyer saying the judge lunged at her, crying and the defense asking that the fact the judge was snarling at the lawyer being entered into the record. LOL
“ He admitted he acted as a middle-man in helping to get drugs (“weed, cocaine and molly”) for Smollett,”
Hadn’t that info already come out? I agree with Cam that the “lunging” episode sounds almost farcical, and then there’s Abel’s admission of having gone to the bathhouse with Jussie. I assume he didn’t just plant himself against a wall and daydream or hang out near the entrance or exit….
I don’t understand how Smollett thought that by arranging this attack it would somehow benefit him. His time on “Empire” was ended, and with these allegations I strongly doubt he will resurrect his career. I will say this about his “accomplices”. They are from a nation where homosexuality is frowned upon, almost illegal. I believe the only reason they turned on them was not only to protect their own butts, but if they were convicted of felonies and they are not US citizens there is a strong chance they would be deported after serving their time. So Abel is straight, is that what he is claiming? But he goes to a bathhouse with Smollett? Who is he kidding, the guy is totally on the DL and his claims of not participating in any sexual activity is the funniest thing about the entire trial. Smollett should have let his career continue on Empire and then start taking more acting classes, not hiring two thugs to pretend to beat him up. Really Stupid Smollett!
Yeah, I can’t give much credibility to Abel’s testimony. I’m not Gay, We went to a bathhouse together. This don’t add up. But then the defense attorney crying and saying the judge lunged at her and making eye gestures. Too weird. Sounds to me like the defense is setting the table to blame the judge for misbehavior and demand a retrial in a case they already know is lost.
why is everyone so willing to believe what the brothers say is gospel? Jussie just might be telling the truth. People do get attacked. people do have to hear racial and homophobic slurs. why is it so impossible to think it could happen to Jussie? i believe him.
You believe him? So, where do these two men fit in? Why did they “beat him up” and put a noose around his neck? It’s a fact that they knew him and hung around with him. Why would they do that to him? Why did Smollett pay them money?
Smollett’s story broke all the way down immediately because the police could see through the scam. They aren’t all that stupid. His story didn’t add up. I have no idea what will happen with this trial but believing Smollett is not a smart thing. He’s guilty . . . of something. And that drama queen defense attorney is not helping matters.
@ MISTERJETT: OK, Jussie, you’re not going to change anyone’s mind here. The evidence is overwhelmingly against you. Please guilty and stop wasting taxpayer time and money.
They’re being believed because the video evidence somewhat corroborates their story. I wanted to believe Jussie too, but the evidence lines up against him.
Entertaining in a ridiculous way, but a huge waste of judicial resources. I wonder who’s paying Smollett’s legal bills, btw. So many more important potential uses for that courtroom. There should be an investigation into the background of this prosecution including into the prosecutors.
I agree that I believe there is an even bigger story than Smollett’s behind all the on again/off again criminal charges, this judge’s alleged behavior, and the defense team’s behavior. Not that I don’t think Smollett needs to be on trial, but there needs to be further investigations into who all interfered and how they interfered in this investigation and trial, apparently on both sides.
Agree! But the prosecution is trying to send a message. They’d given him a slap on the wrist, then he gets on national tv, accuses them of lying on him, and trash talks them. Most wouldn’t take kindly to that. Now he’s screwed. All of his troubles are self inflicted wounds.
Me2, Very good point. He did a good job of biting the hand that fed him.
Comments are closed.