The jury in Jussie Smollett’s trial started deliberating Wednesday, after a prosecutor said there is “overwhelming evidence” that the former “Empire” actor lied to police about being the victim of an anti-gay, racist attack and his defense attorney said the charges are based on lies.
The deliberations began after a roughly one-week trial in which two brothers testified that Smollett recruited them to fake the attack near his home in downtown Chicago in January 2019. They said Smollett, who is Black and gay, orchestrated the hoax, telling them to put a noose around his neck, yell racist and homophobic slurs and rough him up in view of a surveillance camera, and that he said he wanted video of the hoax made public via social media.
Smollett testified that he was the victim of a real hate crime, telling jurors “there was no hoax. ” He called the brothers “liars” and said the $3,500 check he wrote them was for meal and workout plans. His attorneys argued that the brothers attacked the actor because they are homophobic and that they made up the story about the attack being staged but said they wouldn’t testify against Smollett if he paid them each $1 million.