Smollett is accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack on his person, which occurred one evening in January 2019. The actor alleged that masked men assaulted him, shouting slurs and tying a noose around his neck before he managed to flee.
After Smollett reported the alleged attack, police staff reportedly invested over 3,000 hours investigating the case. Two suspects were then identified – brothers whom worked with Smollett on the production of Empire – who claimed the actor paid them $3,500 to stage an attack.
Police believe that Smollett staged the attack in the hopes of boosting his career, after becoming dissatisfied with his salary from Empire. They also believe Smollett was unhappy with the studio’s handling of an offensive letter he received.
According to Sky News, prosecutor Dan Webb said in an opening statement: “When he [Smollett] reported the fake hate crime that was a real crime.” He accused Smollett of conducting a “dress rehearsal” and coaching his would-be attackers to use racist and homophobic slurs, as well as shouting “Maga”.
Defence lawyer, Nenye Uche claimed that the two brothers attacked Smollett simply because they disliked him. He also claimed that the money given to them was in exchange for physical training in preparation for a music video.
Branding Smollett a “real victim”, Uche suggested that a third attacker was involved and that not a “shred” of physical or forensic evidence existed to link Smollett to the crime.
“They are going to lie to your face,” added Uche. “At the end of the day, they want you to believe Jussie was stupid enough to pay for a hoax with a cheque but was smart enough to pay (for supplies) with a $100 bill.”