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Crime EXPLAINER: Jussie Smollett's turn to testify. Will he?

16:27  05 december  2021
16:27  05 december  2021 Source:   msn.com

Trial set to start on charges Smollett faked racist attack

  Trial set to start on charges Smollett faked racist attack CHICAGO (AP) — A popular actor steps out onto the street and is brutally reminded that, despite his fame and wealth, places still exist where the color of his skin and sexual orientation put him in danger. That was the story that ricocheted around the world after Jussie Smollett, a Black and openly gay actor, reported to Chicago police that he was the victim of a hate crime. Nearly three years later, Smollett is about to stand trial on charges that he staged the whole thing. He was charged with felony disorderly conduct after law enforcement and prosecutors said he lied to police about what happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 29, 2019, in downtown Chicago.

CHICAGO (AP) — After two brothers spent hours telling a jury how Jussie Smollett paid them to carry out a fake racist and anti-gay attack on himself in downtown Chicago, the big question when the actor's trial resumes Monday will be whether or not he will tell his side of the story.

FILE - Actor Jussie Smollett arrives Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse for day two of his trial in Chicago.  After two brothers spent hours telling a jury how Smollett paid them to carry out a fake racist and anti-gay attack on himself, the big question when the trial resumes Monday, Dec. 6, is whether the actor will tell his side.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - Actor Jussie Smollett arrives Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse for day two of his trial in Chicago. After two brothers spent hours telling a jury how Smollett paid them to carry out a fake racist and anti-gay attack on himself, the big question when the trial resumes Monday, Dec. 6, is whether the actor will tell his side. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

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

Key moments since Jussie Smollett reported Chicago attack

  Key moments since Jussie Smollett reported Chicago attack CHICAGO (AP) — Jussie Smollett goes to trial Monday on charges that he lied to Chicago police when the former “Empire” actor and R&B singer reported being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack nearly three years ago. Some key moments in the story: Jan. 22, 2019 — Smollett receives a racist and homophobic threatening letter at the studio in Chicago where "Empire" is filmed. Police later say they believe Smollett sent the letter himself. Jan. 29, 2019— Jussie Smollett tells police he was attacked by two men in downtown Chicago at 2 a.m.

The reasons why Smollett might want to testify begin with just how bizarre the case is. During the trial that started last Monday, what emerged was the story of a television star who cast two brothers as his attackers, gave them dialogue to recite, and paid for the rope he told them to fashion into a noose and loop around his neck.

As strange as that sounds, it is the only narrative that has come to the jury from the siblings, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo. And some legal experts say the only chance Smollett has of beating charges that he lied to the police is by telling jurors his version of what happened on Jan. 29, 2019.

"The jurors might be thinking, ‘Who does this guy think he is, not getting up and telling his story,’" said Terry Ekl, a prominent Chicago-area defense attorney not involved in the case.

Jussie Smollett trial begins with jury selection in Chicago on Monday

  Jussie Smollett trial begins with jury selection in Chicago on Monday The actor Jussie Smollett has denied for more than two years he lied about being the victim of a hate crime. Starting Monday, he and his lawyers will fight the accusations at trial.The long road in the Jussie Smollett case finally reaches trial Monday in Chicago, more than two years after police first alleged the actor lied about being the victim of a hate crime and wrongfully diverted weeks of investigative manpower.

Ekl and other legal experts said jurors are not supposed to read anything into a defendant's decision not to testify but that when they return to the deliberation room they often do just that.

As to the importance of a defendant testifying, legal experts said one need look no further than the recent trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges after he testified that he fatally shot two men and wounded another because he feared for his own life.

“They won the case by putting him on,” said Kathleen Zellner, a Chicago area defense attorney. “The jury believed him.”

In Smollett's case, it may be important for him to testify because, as bizarre as the brothers' testimony was, they are the only witnesses to the incident who have testified. And, said Chicago-based defense attorney, Joe Lopez, Smollett's attorneys “haven't been able to impeach these brothers.”

Jussie Smollett Wrote and Directed His Own Movie While Awaiting Trial

  Jussie Smollett Wrote and Directed His Own Movie While Awaiting Trial While Jussie Smollett is due in court to face charges he lied over an alleged racist attack, the actor recently unveiled his directorial debut, "B-Boy Blues."The former Empire star is due in a Chicago court on Monday as he defends himself against charges that he orchestrated his own attack in the city back in 2019, in which he had alleged that two men poured bleach on him and placed a noose around his neck.

Nor have they located a white person that a woman told police she saw carrying a rope in the area earlier that night, leaving the brothers and Smollett as the only three people that the jury can conclude know what happened.

“I think they just want to hear his story and if they don't, the only one they've got is the prosecutions' story,” said David Erickson, a former state appellate judge who teaches at Chicago Kent College of Law.

Another reason why Smollett might want to testify: He should be good at it.

“He's an actor. He should be testifying," Lopez said.

“He has the ability to communicate (and) he thinks he can take the witness stand and play a role,” said Ekl.

Erickson said that when he teaches trial advocacy, he makes it clear from the outset that jurors vote for people they like. Right now, he said, he's sure they like the special prosecutor, Dan Webb. “Dan Webb is every man, he seems like a nice guy, a good next-door neighbor. "

In contrast, they don't know Smollett, and have not heard his voice since he introduced himself during jury selection.

But testifying could pose all sorts of problems for Smollett, starting with his need to explain how the brothers knew they would run into him in the dead of a brutally cold night in an unfamiliar neighborhood as he returned from a sandwich shop. Unless he told them he would be there.

Also, if he's convicted, Smollett's words could land him in yet more trouble.

“You can't be penalized (by a judge) for not testifying but if he takes the stand and the judge believes he perjured himself, he can add (jail or prison) time,” said Erickson.

Both Erickson and Ekl think Smollett will end up testifying, even if his attorneys beg him not to.

"I think you've got a guy who is so arrogant and self-centered, he really thinks he can make people believe what he says is true ... (and) schmooze a jury to get them to like him," Ekl said.

___

Check out the AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.

Jussie Smollett trial: Actor was found guilty of falsely reporting a hate crime. Here's what comes next .
Former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett was found guilty Thursday on five counts of felony disorderly conduct for making false reports to police that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019. © Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Actor Jussie Smollett (center) returns to the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Thursday in Chicago, and was found guilty on five of six counts. His defense team said it will appeal the verdict. Jurors deliberated over the course of two days following a trial that featured Smollett and his accomplices providing strikingly different testimony over what occurred.

usr: 1
This is interesting!