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'It's just plain wrong': Closing arguments begin in Jussie Smollett's trial for reporting an allegedly staged hate crime on himself

Megan Crepeau and Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO — 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 also told the jury that Smollett lied repeatedly during his two days on the witness stand, tailoring his testimony to fit certain aspects of the evidence.

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.

 

Webb said prosecutors have overwhelming evidence corroborating that the two key witnesses, brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, told police the truth about Smollett’s plan to pay them to commit the hoax beating, yell racial and homophobic slurs, pour bleach on him and put a makeshift noose around his neck.

Smollett “tailored his testimony” to fit what he couldn’t deny, like surveillance footage, and lie about the rest, Webb said. He said Smollett’s initial story to police that one of his attackers appeared to be white was all part of the hoax.

“If I say it was whites, that makes it more real,” Webb says. “It gives it more credibility (that it was a hate attack).”

Smollett testified Tuesday that he didn’t know who attacked him, and that he only got a look at one assailant, who was wearing a ski mask. Webb argued it was ludicrous for him to say that, since there’s been copious evidence that it was in fact the Osundairo brothers.

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