Defence argues Jussie Smollett is ‘a real victim’ of attack as trial begins

30 November 2021, 04:44

Actor Jussie Smollett looks back at his mother as they arrive with other family members to court
Jussie Smollett Trial. Picture: PA

Prosecutors say the 39-year-old recruited a pair of brothers to carry out a fake assault against himself.

Jussie Smollett “is a real victim” of a “real crime”, his lawyer said as the ex-Empire actor’s trial started on Monday.

Nenye Uche rejected prosecutors’ allegation Smollett staged a homophobic and racist attack in Chicago after the television studio where he worked did not take hate mail he had received seriously.

Mr Uche said two brothers attacked Smollett in January 2019 because they did not like him and that a 3,500 dollar (£2,628) cheque the actor paid the men was for training so he could prepare for an upcoming music video — not as payment for staging a hate crime, as prosecutors allege.

The lawyer also suggested a third attacker was involved and told jurors there is not a “shred” of physical and forensic evidence linking Smollett to the crime prosecutors allege.

Actor Jussie Smollett walks with family members as they arrive at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse
Actor Jussie Smollett, centre, told police he was attacked by supporters of then-president Donald Trump (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

“Jussie Smollett is a real victim,” Mr Uche said.

Uche made his opening statement after special prosecutor Dan Webb told jurors that the actor recruited the brothers to help him carry out a fake attack, then reported it to Chicago police, who classified it as a hate crime and spent 3,000 staff hours on the investigation.

Smollett told police he was attacked by supporters of then-president Donald Trump — igniting political divisions around the country.

“When he reported the fake hate crime that was a real crime,” said Mr Webb, who was named as special prosecutor after Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office dropped the original charges filed against Smollett. A new indictment was returned in 2020.

Smollett, who arrived at the courthouse in Chicago on Monday with his mother and other family members, is charged with felony disorderly conduct.

The class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said it is likely that if Smollett is convicted he would be placed on probation and perhaps ordered to perform community service.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Liz Cheney

Donald Trump critic Liz Cheney loses Wyoming Republican primary

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin seeks political comeback in Alaska

Wolfgang Peterson (Alamy)

Das Boot filmmaker Wolfgang Petersen dies aged 81

Biden

Biden signs massive climate and healthcare legislation

Western Drought Colorado River

Drought-stricken states to get less water from Colorado River

Police Boat Saves Wedding

Police boat comes to rescue of stranded groom

Lebanon Banks

Officials release Beirut gunman after bank drops charges

Jill Biden

US first lady Jill Biden tests positive for Covid-19

Norway Walrus

Campaign under way in Norway to erect statue of euthanised walrus

Russia Putin

Putin blasts US ‘hegemony’ and predicts the end of a ‘unipolar’ world order

Estonia Soviet Monument

Estonia to remove Soviet monument which is ‘public order risk’

Germany Drought

German industry at risk as Rhine falls, lobby group warns

Over 5,000 cases of wild cherry Capri Sun drinks have been recalled after a cleaning product was added to a production line

Over 5,000 cases of Capri-Sun recalled over cleaning solution contamination fears

Lost Mural

Long-hidden rare synagogue mural restored

Taiwan US China

China sets sanctions on Taiwan politicians in wake of US visits

Turkey Stargazers

Stargazers watch meteors at ancient Turkish site