Federal prosecutors concluded their case Friday against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett with a psychologist’s testimony on how he would behave if he had a mental breakdown.
As police build their case that Smollett staged the alleged attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary and wanted attention, the actor’s legal team are pointing the finger at his brothers, who they say planned the assault on Smollett using flour and bleach and staged the photo op in the hope that it would take the pressure off their brother.
The brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, have not been charged in connection with the alleged attack. They were arrested a few days after the alleged incident on February 13 but released without charges a few days later. They are now back in the city and expected to testify during the trial.
Smollett’s legal team added Thursday that they had instructed Smollett to turn over all phones and other electronic devices, which may contain “inflammatory and untrue information.”
A blood test was administered to Smollett on Thursday, though it did not come up for the defense during the day’s testimony, and footage of a security camera showing him exiting a Subway sandwich shop on the night of the alleged attack was not asked about.
When defense attorney Joseph Lopez read about Smollett’s income and salary and cash payments to his production company to the judge, State’s Attorney Richard Della Fave asked Lopez if Smollett had ever claimed he didn’t have a need for those.
Lopez said Smollett “didn’t tell the truth,” referring to his salary, and didn’t “tell the truth” about how much he earned.
The trial comes weeks after Chicago police found themselves under criticism from the community in the wake of allegations that they initially mishandled the investigation into the reported hate crime. Police made multiple public statements claiming that two brothers had admitted to helping Smollett stage the attack. Days later, police determined that the statement by the brothers to police was false. The brothers were released from custody and placed on suicide watch.
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, told police that he was attacked in downtown Chicago by two people who were yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him while throwing an unknown chemical substance on him.
Smollett has maintained his innocence, telling investigators that he was the victim of a hate crime.