cross examination

Smollett gets testy in court over DMs he sent to alleged attacker before assault

Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Jussie Smollett trial is reaching its climax in Chicago, with attorneys due to make closing arguments today.

Smollett took the stand on Monday to protest his innocence. He managed to remain calm and composed. However, returning to the stand for a second day of questioning yesterday, he became visibly irritable with some of the questions from the prosecution.

Smollett faces six charges of lying to police. He claims he was attacked in January 2019 by two men. Prosecutors believe it was a hoax assault the actor helped plan and arrange.

Here’s a few bullet points from what happened in court yesterday.

• The alleged attack on Smollett was carried out by brothers Abimbola ‘Abel’ and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo. On Tuesday, Smollett was asked about a claim by the pair that they’d driven around the area of the attack with him a few days earlier to decide how it would play out. Smollett said he had actually picked up Abel for a workout together. Abel, to Smollett’s surprise, was joined by brother Ola. The three drove around the area a few times. Smollett said it wasn’t unusual for him to drive around in circles. He said he canceled the plan to workout because he didn’t want to do so with Ola, whom he hadn’t invited to the session.

Abimbola ‘Abel’ and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo
Abimbola ‘Abel’ and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo (Photo: Instagram)

Related: Brother in Smollett case denies homophobia, says he worked at gay club and Pride

• Prosecutor Dan Webb asked Smollett if he had sent private messages to Abimbola Osundairo on the night of the “fake attack.” Smollett replied, “there was no fake attack”.

• Smollett denied sending direct messages to Abel that night. Webb then read out four messages Smollett had sent to Abel via Instagram, alerting him to the fact he was back in Chicago. On being shown the messages, Smollett became defensive and responded, “If you say so, sir.” Smollett also said Webb didn’t really understand Instagram, and that the messages followed updates he’d posted to his Instagram story about his delayed flight. He said all his followers knew about his delayed arrival.

• Smollett said he’d alerted Abel to his arrival in Chicago to arrange a workout, not to organize an attack.

• Smollett objected to the prosecutor pushing him for “yes” or “no” answers: “It’s difficult to answer yes and no when little bits are thrown in there that aren’t true… when some things are true, and some aren’t, it’s hard to say yes or no.”

• The prosecutor questioned Smollet about him changing his description of the attackers. Smollett had first described them to police as “white”. He later changed this to “pale.” Smollett again said it had been difficult to see the men, who wore ski masks, and he had at first assumed them to be white but had changed it to pale as he believed it to be the responsible thing to do: “I didn’t want to make the assumption that they were white. So I said let me change that and just say that they were pale skinned … They could’ve been a white person, they could have been a pale someone else.”

• Webb asked Smollett, “Did you think by saying that the people that attacked you were white, it would lend credibility to a fake hate crime?” Smollett replied tersely, “You’d have to ask someone that did a fake hate crime.”

• Webb said Smollett hadn’t been greatly bruised in the attack. The actor again became defensive, saying his injuries were noticeable: “Mr. Webb, I have a scar under my eye that looks like a bag for the rest of my life … It’s absolutely a problem.”

• Smollett was unable to offer a reason as to why the brothers had attacked him. He said he had considered Abel (also known as Bola), prior to this incident, a friend. Webb asked him if he recognized Abel’s voice, as the attack took place. “In that moment, I’m not going to stop and say, ‘Hey Bola is that you?’” replied Smollett.

Related: The Jussie Smollett saga just took a very strange turn

If found guilty, Smollett faces up to 18 years in jail: Three years for each of the six counts. However, legal experts believe that he would more likely be placed on probation and do community service.