The trial for Jussie Smollett is set to start as jury selection begins Monday.
It was just 2019 when the black gay actor was on top of the world. His role on the hit television show “Empire” garnished him worldwide notoriety as well as chart-topping music. But all that would change one cold and windy night in Chicago when Smollett was attacked by two men at 2 a.m. while walking home from a Subway sandwich deli.
Smollett told police they recognized him from TV, began yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, put a noose around his neck, and shouted, “This is MAGA country.” Smollett’s story quickly spread across the internet and his supporters flooded him with love and support. But just a few weeks later his story began to fall apart as police investigations uncovered two brothers who claimed Smollett staged the entire attack to help bolster his acting and singing career. The Nigerian brothers said they were paid $3,500 by Smollett to pretend to attack him on camera and to make it look like a hate crime.
Smollett was charged by Chicago Police with felony disorderly conduct for staging the attack.
The two men he allegedly paid to pose as his attackers will play an important role for prosecutors in the case.
The Osundairo brothers claim Smollett not only paid them but also drove them to the attack site before the incident as a “walkthrough” to make sure the attack went as planned.
Now the two brothers will take the stand to tell a jury exactly what they told police about Smollett. The jury will also see dozens of surrounding surveillance footage, some of which will show the attack, and others will show the brothers buying a MAGA hat, ski masks, and gloves hours earlier.
Smollett’s attorneys have not stated whether the actor will take the stand or how they plan to refute the story from the Osundairo brothers, but it is obvious they will try to attack the brothers’ credibility.
If convicted, Smollett could face up to three years in prison, but many experts believe he will only receive probation and or community service.
Since the incident, Smollet’s career has taken a back seat, but the actor has directed an independent film called “B-Boy Blues,” which is premiering at the American Black Film Festival this month.
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