A jury has begun deliberations in the trial of former Empire actor Jussie Smollett over charges he staged an anti-gay, racist attack on himself nearly three years ago then lied to Chicago police about it.
The deliberations began after a roughly one-week trial in which two brothers testified that Smollett recruited them to fake the attack near his home in central Chicago in January 2019.
They said Smollett orchestrated the hoax, telling them to put a noose around his neck and rough him up in view of a surveillance camera, and that he said he wanted video of the hoax made public via social media.
Smollett testified that he was the victim of a real hate crime, telling jurors “there was no hoax”.
He called the brothers “liars” and said the 3,500 dollar cheque he wrote them was for meal and workout plans.
His attorneys argued that the brothers attacked the actor — who is gay and black — because they are homophobic and did not like “who he was”.
They also alleged the brothers made up the story about the attack being staged to get money from Smollett, and that they said they would not testify against him if Smollett paid them each one million dollars.