jussie smollett trial

Jussie Smollett Trial Updates: Smollett Takes the Stand in Day 5

NBCUniversal Media, LLC After more testimony from the Osundairo brothers in the Jussie Smollett trial, tensions boiled over in the courtroom. NBC 5 Chicago’s Charlie Wojciechowski reports.

Defense attorneys in the Jussie Smollett trial are continuing to present their case Monday, after the Osundairo brothers spent hours Thursday spent hours telling a jury how Smollett paid them to carry out a fake racist and anti-gay attack on himself in downtown Chicago.

Judge James Linn gave jurors the day off on Friday.

Around noon, it was announced that Jussie Smollett would take the witness stand.

Attorneys rarely announce whether or not their clients will take the stand before they actually call them to testify, and Smollett's attorneys hadn't made their plans public before that time.

Smollett, 39, is charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for making what prosecutors say was a false police report about the alleged attack — one count for each time he gave a report — to three different officers.

The class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said if Smollett is convicted he likely would be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.

Smollett and his family are expected to arrive at the Chicago courthouse Monday at 8:45 a.m.

Live updates from the courthouse, from day 5 of the trial are below.

-- As of 9:49 a.m., court has not started yet. Judge James Linn usually starts promptly at 9:15 a.m. Attorneys are in chambers, and Smollett and his family are sitting alone behind the defense bench.

10:29 a.m.:

First witness called by the Defense is Anthony Moore. Moore is a security guard at the Sheraton Grand on North Water Street and was on duty the night of the alleged attack.

Moore testified that he was on duty at 2 a.m. at the Chicago Burger Company inside the hotel. He said he heard somebody coming towards him and pointed his flightlight out to see who it was.

Moore testifies that he saw a male figure coming towards him dressed in all black with a mask on. Moore said he pointed the flashlight right in his face, and that the man came within a foot or two. Moore said he saw that the man was a white male, because he could see the eyes through the man's mask.

Moore then said the man ran past him, saying "It's cold, it's cold." Moore testifies that he also saw a second man who was shorter and wider, and someone else at a distance who appeared to be on all fours looking for something.

10:52 a.m.:

Under cross examination, Moore admits he didn’t think much of the incident at the time, and he did not call 911.

“If you thought something serious or something really bad had happened, you would have done something?" Prosecution asked, to which Moore responded, "Correct.”

11:00 a.m.:

Jury breaks

11:24 a.m.:

Defense attorneys call their next witness, Brett Mahoney, show runner of 'Empire' during its last three seasons.

12:22 p.m.:

Smollett was called to the stand just after noon, and the first questions to the actor are about his background. When asked what he does for a living, Smollett says "artist."

Of his family life, Smollett says he has 5 siblings, and that his mother is African American, and that his father is white and Jewish. He describes he relationship with his family and parents as "extremely close."

A photo of Smollett's family is shown to the jury. Jussie describes each family member, and what they do for a living

Smollett continues, saying he was very close to his mother, and that he had issues with his father, but reconciled them in later years.

“I was a working child actor," Smollett says.

Prior to “Empire,” he says he worked on a number of movies and TV series, but as he aged, that work began to wane. That’s when he started up his music career, Smollett testifies.

Smollett says he wanted the role in "Empire" as soon as he heard about it.

“I am a singer, I am an actor, I am gay…I am Jamal Lyons in more ways than one,” he testifies.

12:48 p.m.:

Smollett was then asked by attorneys to describe his relationship with Bola Osundairo.

Smollett refers to him as "Bon," and says Osundairo was initially introduced to him in 2019 as security, for when Smollett would frequent clubs. It turned out he also worked on Empire as a “background actor.”

Smollett testifies that they became friends, and the first night they might they took drugs, cocaine and weed, and got a private room in a bath house. “We did more drugs and made out,” Smollett says.

1:05 p.m.:

Smollett describes his friendship with Osundairo, and testifies that they would "drive around smoking weed" all the time -- something Smollett says was part of his music writing process.

“Did you ever drive around your neighborhood smoking a blunt?” Defense attorney Nenye Uche asks.  “Sometimes,” Smollett says.

Smoellet says black Mercedes they'd drive around in was a loner from Mercedes, and that hewrote about it on Instagram in return for a one year lease.

Smollett says Olabinjo, Bola's brother, brother “kinda creeped me out.”

“I was very well aware of the fact that this was not necessarily a friendship to shine  light on," Smollett testified. “He didn’t like me or wasn’t feeling me, that was fine. He took the vibe out of the room.”

Smollett also testified that he didn't know of Olabinjo's previous felony conviction, and had no idea about the weapons police found in his apartment. Smollett says he could never trust him.

Smollett then says he needed a personal trainer (Smollett alleges he paid one of the brothers as a personal trainer), because producers had told him he had gotten fat, and that he had an upcoming music video shoot in which he would be required to be shirtless.

1:10 p.m.:

Trial breaks for lunch

2:45 p.m.:

Smollett continued his testimony on the nature of his relationship with Bola, saying that he agreed to pay him $3,500 for training and meal plans to get in shape for a music video.

He says that the amount agreed to was "not a lot of money" to pay for a trainer, and emphasized that he had paid another trainer more than $10,000 for similar assistance.

The check Smollett says he used to pay for the training and meal plans is the check that the prosecution alleges was used to pay for the faked attack.

4:30 p.m.:

As Smollett's testimony continued he described his alleged attack as "something out of Looney Tunes adventures."

The actor said that he was "tired and hungry," and was expecting nothing more than a Subway sandwich when he left his Streeterville apartment on the fateful night in Jan. 2019.

Smollett testified that he was walking when he was attacked by two men, who got his attention by shouting racist and homophobic slurs.

"It felt like something out of Looney Tune adventures...someone that felt massive just coming up to me, not even enough time to think." he said.

Smollett, who claimed that two men attacked him while yelling taunts about "MAGA country," also testified that he was attacked with bleach, and had a noose placed around his neck during the alleged attack.

The actor testified that he didn't realize there was a noose around his neck until after he had returned home following the attack. He also said that he never planned to call police.

"One, I am a Black man in America. I do not trust police," he said. "I am also a well-known figure and I'm openly gay. I want to play a boxer. I want to play a superhero...The moment I got beaten, I became a f---t who got his ass whooped."

Smollett also worked to explain why he did not turn his phone over to police when requested to do so during the investigation, saying that his phone was filled with phone numbers of family, other actors, and a variety of private pictures.

His attorney Nenye Uche asked whether he "enjoyed' the attention that followed the attack.

"No. I've lost my livelihood," he said.

Smollett remains on the stand Monday afternoon.

5:15 p.m.:

“I would like to think I landed a punch. But I don’t know if it landed," Smollett testified Monday.

He said he slipped and they tussled on the ground for up to 30 seconds. Smollett said he saw a second person — who he believes kicked him on his side — as that person ran away.

Smollett said he assumed the person who attacked him was white because he used a racial slur and shouted it was “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to then-President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

A pair of brothers, Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, who are Black, testified last week that Smollett instructed them to yell “this is MAGA country” during the fake assault.

Smollett said he picked up his phone and told the person he had been talking to that he “got jumped.” He noticed he had a noose around his neck as he got up, grabbed his sandwich and went up to his apartment. Smollett said he removed the noose but a friend who was at his apartment called police and told him to put the noose back on so officers could see it. Smollett said he was upset police had been called because he would never have done so.

Defense attorneys have suggested the Osundairo brothers were motivated to accuse Smollett of staging the hoax because they disliked him and then saw an opportunity to make money. They suggested that after the brothers were questioned by police about the alleged attack, they asked Smollett for $1 million each to not testify against him at trial.

Smollett’s lawyers also have argued that Chicago police rushed to judgment when they brought charges against Smollett, and suggested a third person may have been involved in the attack.

Smollett said he met Abimbola Osundairo in 2017 at a club, where he learned Osundairo also worked on the set of “Empire.” He said the two men did drugs together and went to a bathhouse, where Smollett said they “made out." Over time, he said the two men did more drugs and participated in sex acts together. Osundairo testified last week that he and Smollett didn’t have a sexual relationship.

Smollett testified that he met Abimbola's brother, Olabingo, but that they didn't speak and “he kind of freaked me out.” He said Abimbola Osundairo made it seem like they needed to “sneak off” when they were together around his brother. Smollett said he never trusted Olabingo Osundairo.

Prosecutors say Smollett staged the attack because he was unhappy with the “Empire” studio’s response to hate mail he received. The letter including a drawing of a stick figure hanging by a noose, with a gun pointed at it, and the word “MAGA.”

6:14 p.m.:

Cross-examination of Jussie Smollett has concluded for the day. Jurors have been instructed to return to the courthouse at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday.


The Associated Press and NBC 5's Charlie Wojciechowski contributed to this story.