The jury of six men and six women deliberated for more than two hours to end court proceedings Wednesday.
Celebrities, politicians and others rallied to his defense, and police spent considerable resources tracking down the two suspects. But authorities soon determined that the suspects were actually two of Smollett’s acquaintances from the “Empire” set.
“They’re criminals. They’re the worst type of criminals,” Uche told jurors.
Yet prosecutors say that during the investigation, it became apparent to authorities that the reported hate crime was actually a hoax. In closing arguments, special prosecutor Dan Webb accused Smollett of lying on the stand and claimed he lacked credibility throughout the case.
“You bring into the jury box your common sense and intelligence,” Webb began. “Beyond dispute, Mr. Smollett did exactly what we charged him with.”
Multiple pieces of evidence validate their case, prosecution says
The first was withholding cell phone, medical, and DNA evidence from police. “Heavily redacted” cell phone records were produced for jurors, showing no phone calls to Bola Osundairo, though Webb pointed out in the four to five days prior to the alleged attack there were five phone calls, 40 text messages, and nine Instagram Direct Messages.
“Mr. Smollett didn’t want the crime solved,” Webb told jurors. “He wanted the media exposure but he didn’t want the brothers apprehended.”
Second, Webb accused Smollett of misleading police on the race of the attackers, saying “he wants police to be looking for someone White.” The Osundairo brothers are Black. Smollett said during testimony that he was never sure the perpetrators were White but “assumed” and that he was “certain” he was saying pale-skinned from the beginning.
The third piece of evidence Webb pointed to was “tampering with the rope” that was seen around Smollett’s neck the early morning of the alleged attack, first on surveillance camera when the actor initially walks back into his apartment and second on body camera when police arrived.
It was initially “exactly the way Ola told you (jurors) he left it,” but then, Webb said, Smollett “monkeyed around” with the rope, to groans from the Smollett family as nearly all of them shook their heads.