Jussie Smollett case focuses on how ‘hoax’ unfolded | WIVT

CHICAGO (AP) – Prosecutors’ case against Jussie Smollett has focused on how Chicago police say they determined what they initially believed to be a horrific hate crime was in fact a fake assault organized by the former actor of “Empire” with the help of two brothers.

Testimony will continue on Wednesday as part of the trial, which is expected to last about a week.

A senior investigator in the case, Michael Theis, said Tuesday that the brothers – who worked with Smollett on the set of “Empire” in Chicago – told police how the actor orchestrated the hoax. They said Smollett texted them to meet him “at the bottom,” paid for supplies, including a clothesline that later turned into a noose, and took them on a “run” before the start. suspected attack from January 2019.

Theis, who is now deputy director of research and development for the Chicago Police Department, said about two dozen detectives had accumulated some 3,000 hours on the investigation, refuting a statement by a lawyer for the defense that they rushed to pass judgment. He said police were excited when they were able to track the movements of two alleged assailants using surveillance video and a cell phone and carpool service tapes.

“The crime was a hate crime, a horrible hate crime,” Theis said, noting that Smollett – who is black and gay – reported that his attackers put a noose around his neck and poured water on him of bleach. He said the case had become national and international news and “everyone from the mayor down to the grassroots” wanted it resolved, a reference to then-mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Defense attorney Nenye Uche said the brothers – who also worked on the set of “Empire” – attacked Smollett because they didn’t like him “because of who he is” and suggested Tuesday that the brothers were homophobic.

Smollett is charged with disorderly conduct for doing what prosecutors say is a false police report. The Class 4 felony carries a jail term of up to three years, but experts have said if Smollett is found guilty he would likely be placed on probation and possibly ordered to do house work. general interest.

After police arrested brothers Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, the men said Smollett wanted to stage the attack because he was not happy with the way the TV studio handled the hate mail that the actor had received, Theis said. He said investigators verified the brothers’ account – including that the actor picked them up days before the attack and drove them to the downtown neighborhood where he lived and spoke about what would happen. – and corroborated their version of events using GPS, cell phone recordings and video evidence. Police found no case where they concluded the men were lying, he added.

“At the end of the investigation, we determined that the alleged hate crime was in fact a staging,” Theis said, and the Osundairo brothers were released.

Jurors were shown surveillance footage of the brothers buying supplies, including a red hat that they told police Smollett wanted them to wear to look like supporters of then-President Donald Trump, and a piece of clothesline according to the police was then fashioned into the noose. Jurors also saw a still image from a video which Theis said showed Smollett returning home the night of the alleged attack, with the clothesline draped around his shoulders. The clothesline was wrapped around her neck when officers arrived, Theis said, leading detectives to believe Smollett may have re-tied it.

Uche described the Osundairo brothers as unreliable and said when police searched their home they found heroin and guns. The brothers will testify during the trial, but it is not known if Smollett will.

Uche questioned Theis during cross-examination about a homophobic word used by one of the brothers. Theis said there was a message containing an insult but that he is not sure if that makes the man homophobic. Uche also asked Theis if he knew that one of the brothers had attacked someone in the television studio where “Empire” was filmed because he was gay.

“One person said it happened, but I don’t know if it happened,” Theis said.

Uche also sought to discredit the police investigation, suggesting that detectives ignored possible leads. And he said a check for $ 3,500 the actor paid the brothers was for personal training so he could prepare for an upcoming music video, not to carry out the hoax, as prosecutors claim. . Theis said the memo on the check said it was “nutrition” and “workout”.

Uche also suggested that a third striker was involved. A local resident said she saw a white man with “reddish brown hair” who appeared to be expecting someone that night, according to police reports. She told a detective that when the man turned away from her, she “could see what appeared to be a rope hanging under her jacket.”

On cross-examination, Theis admitted seeing this statement but did not send a detective to re-examine the woman. He said she saw the man hours before the alleged attack and that “the rope was a different color”.


Check out the AP’s full coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.

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