Jussie Smollett, who is charged with falsely reporting a hate crime in Chicago last year, turned himself in January 29. | Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Photo Jury wraps up first day of deliberations in Jussie Smollett’s trial for alleged hoax hate crime
CHICAGO — A Cook County jury in Cook County on Friday finished the first day of deliberations in the case of the “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who is accused of hiring two friends to orchestrate a racist and homophobic attack that he said was motivated by his anger at race and Trump administration policies.
Smollett’s alleged attack in Chicago in January is the latest example of a growing wave of activism by transgender people around the country in response to what they see as cruel treatment by members of the Trump administration.
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On Friday, the 12-member jury spent nearly eight hours deliberating after ending a four-day trial by reading from a lengthy instruction on the law. A court official told reporters that they were back in the jury room meeting with attorneys.
Last week, Smollett’s defense attorneys said the actor did not write any of the materials that went into the case against him, including a 20-page police affidavit containing the case against him.
But Assistant State’s Attorney Joe Magats didn’t flinch when he mentioned a four-page confession written by Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who testified against Smollett. He showed the document to the jury during summations and cited it as the foundation of the prosecution’s case.
The Osundairo brothers, in testimony last week, said Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack that occurred in downtown Chicago on Jan. 29, 2018.
“They wrote a letter,” Magats said. “They watched the make-up. They watched the costume. They set the scene up in an apartment, to the point where they saw the duct tape. They got the rope, but they never did get the gun.”
Smollett’s attorneys have denied the claim that the actor paid the brothers, and suggested the actor was on a mission to gin up publicity to further his acting career.
The case has drawn thousands of spectators who have lined up outside the courthouse in the Loop every day since the beginning of the trial in a courtroom packed with members of the media, spectators and family members of both the defendant and the Osundairo brothers.