Testimony to begin in trial of ex-"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett

  • In US
  • 2021-11-30 15:23:25Z
  • By CBS News

Testimony is expected to begin Tuesday in the trial of actor Jussie Smollett nearly three years after he was accused of lying to Chicago police when he claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack. CBS Chicago is told a Chicago police officer will be taking the stand.

A jury of six men and six women was empaneled Monday. Opening statements began afterward.

Special prosecutor Dan Webb began by laying out his case for the jury, saying Smollett's story about a racist and homophobic attack was all a hoax.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Nenye Uche said Smollett really was attacked and placed the blame on brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, whom police accuse Smollett of paying to stage the attack.

Smollett is facing six felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly orchestrating a phony hate crime against himself in January 2019.

Smollett, who is Black and openly gay, had told police he was attacked as he was walking home around 2 a.m. on January 29, 2019. He claimed two masked men - one of them also wearing a red hat - shouted racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him, put a noose around his neck and poured a chemical on him.

Police said Smollett had paid those two men, the Osundairo brothers, $3,500 by check to stage the attack.

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