CHICAGO (AP) — After two brothers spent hours telling a jury how Jussie Smollett paid them to carry out a fake racist and anti-gay attack on himself in downtown Chicago, the big question when the actor’s trial resumes Monday will be whether he will tell his side of the story.
The prosecution rested Thursday and the defense began calling witnesses.
Attorneys rarely announce whether their clients will take the stand before they actually call them to testify, and Smollett’s attorneys have not made their plans public.
The reasons why Smollett might want to testify begin with just how bizarre the case is. During the trial that started Nov. 29, what emerged was the story of a television star who cast two brothers as his attackers, gave them dialogue to recite, and paid for the rope he told them to fashion into a noose and loop around his neck.
As strange as that sounds, it is the only narrative that has come to the jury from the siblings, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo. And some legal experts say the only chance Smollett has of beating charges that he lied to the police is by telling jurors his version of what happened on Jan. 29, 2019.
Defense attorney Shay Allen has suggested the brothers, who are Black, were motivated to accuse Smollett of staging the hoax because they disliked the performer — who is gay and Black — and then saw an opportunity to make money.
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.