Closing arguments began in the trial of Jussie Smollett Wednesday, with a special prosecutor on the case saying the former “Empire” actor not only committed a crime by falsely reporting a hate crime, what he did was “just plain wrong.”
Prosecutor Dan Webb began his remarks by telling jurors the allegations against Smollett were relatively simple: He falsely reported a fake hate crime to the Chicago Police Department as a real hate crime.
“We have proven this by overwhelming evidence,” Webb said.
Not only is what Smollett did a crime, Webb said, “beyond that it’s just plain wrong to just outright denigrate” something as serious as a hate crime. Webb said it was particularly egregious for Smollett to make sure his plan “had words and symbols” emblematic of this country’s racist past — including a noose and the use of the N-word.
He also said Smollett’s false allegations cost the police enormous resources to investigate.
The arguments started just before 9:30 a.m., capping off a seven-day trial that has captured nationwide attention.
The jury is expected to begin deliberating as soon as Wednesday afternoon.
Prosecutors contend Smollett staged a phony hate crime attack on himself with the help of two brothers, directing one of them to pull his punches and the other to put a noose around his neck and pour bleach on him.
Smollett’s defense is adamant that the attack was real, and Smollett never orchestrated any kind of hoax — an assertion that Smollett stuck to for hours during his own time on the witness stand this week.
Smollett faces six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly giving false information to the police about the attack.
The alleged racial and homophobic attack on the then-“Empire” actor on a frigid night in January 2019 led to one of the most momentous minor felony cases in Cook County history.
Under an international media spotlight, the case spiraled into a tangle of rumors and culture-war flashpoints, competing lawsuits, a special prosecutor’s investigation, and a political crisis for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
But jurors will be tasked with determining only one thing: Whether Smollett, in fact, staged the attack on himself, then lied to police about it.Internet Explorer Channel Network