Smollett Says Witnesses Demanded $2M From Him

Defense has rested its case
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2021 7:36 PM CST
Defense Rests Its Case in Jussie Smollett Trial
Actor Jussie Smollet with his mother Janet after day six of his trial in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Jussie Smollett took the stand for a second day in his trial in Chicago Tuesday and leveled an accusation at the prosecution's two star witnesses. The former Empire actor said brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo—who testified last week that Smollett had hired them to stage a hate crime against him—had asked him for $1 million apiece to change their story and "go away." The shakedown accusation was made earlier in the trial, but this was the first time in came directly from Smollett, Deadline reports. On Monday, Smollett, who is accused of lying to police after the Jan. 2019 incident and faces six counts of disorderly conduct, testified that "there was no hoax."

Under cross-examination Tuesday, Smollett said he initially refused to give police his cellphone because he wanted to keep his privacy, NBC reports. Special prosecutor Dan Webb focused on communications between Smollett and Abimbola Osundairo before the attack. Asked why he had informed Osundairo of flight delays before he arrived back in Chicago hours before the attack, Smollett said it was because they had plans to work out the next day, reports the New York Times. The final message, around 90 minutes before the attack, said he had made it home. Webb noted that there were no follow-up messages canceling the workout plan. Asked if Osundario had shown up for the appointment, Smollett said he didn't know.

When Webb asked Smollett if the brothers were his attackers, he said, "No, I don’t know. There's no way for me to know that." The defense rested its case after Smollett spent a total of around eight hours on the stand over two days, Deadline reports. The jury is expected to start deliberating after closing arguments Wednesday. Smollett could get a maximum sentence of three years but since he has no criminal record, experts expect Smollett to be sentenced to community service if he is found guilty. (More Jussie Smollett stories.)

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