Detective: No rush to try in the Jussie Smollett case – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports


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CHICAGO (AP) – The lead investigator in a suspected attack on Jussie Smollett on Tuesday denied claims by a defense attorney that Chicago police rushed to try the case, saying about two dozens of detectives had timed some 3,000 hours before concluding the ex-actor of “Empire”. had mounted a hoax.

Speaking as prosecutors begin their trial against Smollett, former Chicago Police Detective Michael Theis said he initially viewed the actor as a victim of a homophobic and racist attack and that they had “absolutely” not rushed to judge him. He said investigators spent days after Smollett’s January 2019 report tracking leads, collecting video from surveillance cameras, video from doorbells and videos from businesses in the area, as well as ” review telephone records and survey the area in subzero temperatures.

Theis also said Smollett refused to provide his medical records related to the attack or a cheek swab so that investigators could compare it to DNA that could have been on a string. Smollett said the attackers put him around his neck. He also said Smollett told police that one of his attackers was white and repeated it on ABC’s “Good Morning America”.

“At the end of the investigation, we determined that the alleged hate crime was in fact a staged event,” directed by Smollett, Theis said.

Defense lawyer Nenye Uche said during opening statements late Monday, two brothers attacked Smollett because they didn’t like him and a check for $ 3,500 the actor paid the men was for training so he could prepare for an upcoming one. video clip. Uche also suggested that a third assailant was involved and told jurors there was not a “shred” of physical and forensic evidence linking Smollett to the crimes alleged by prosecutors.

“Jussie Smollett is a real victim,” Uche said.

Smollett is charged with the offense of disorderly conduct. The Class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts said it was likely that if Smollett was found guilty he would be placed on probation and possibly ordered to perform community service.

Outside the courtroom on Tuesday, Smollett’s brother said it had been “incredibly painful” for the family to watch Smollett be accused of something he “hadn’t done”.

“We have confidence in his legal team and look forward to people hearing the real facts of this case,” said Jojo Smollett.

Special Prosecutor Dan Webb told jurors on Monday that Smollett recruited the brothers, who worked with him on the set of “Empire,” to help him carry out a mock attack because he believed the TV studio was not taking not seriously the hate messages he had received.

Smollett then reported the alleged attack to Chicago Police, who characterized it as a hate crime and spent 3,000 working hours investigating, Webb said. The actor told police he was attacked by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, sparking political divisions across the country.

“When he reported the bogus hate crime, it was a real crime,” Webb said.

Webb told jurors Smollett was unhappy with the way the studio handled the letter, which included a drawing of a snowman hanging from a tree and “MAGA,” a reference to Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan. . Webb said police had not determined who wrote the letter.

However, Uche countered that Smollett refused additional security when the studio offered it.

Webb said Smollett then “engineered this bogus crime”, holding a “dress rehearsal” with the two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, including telling them to shout racial and homophobic slurs and “MAGA”. Smollett also told the brothers to buy ski masks, red hats and “a rope to make it look like a hate crime,” Webb told jurors. The brothers used a $ 100 bill Smollett gave them to buy the supplies, Webb said.

He said Smollett wanted the hoax attack captured on surveillance video, but the camera he thought could record it was pointed in the wrong direction. He also said the original plan was for the men to throw gasoline on Smollett, but they went with bleach because it would be safer.

Whether Smollett, who is black and gay, will testify remains an open question. But the brothers and sisters will take the witness stand.

Uche described the brothers as unreliable, saying their story had changed unlike Smollett’s, and that when police searched their home they found heroin and guns.

“They’re going to lie to your face,” Uche told the jury.

Uche also said the evidence “showed enormous haste for the trial of various police officials,” and he said prosecutors’ claim that paying for a fake check attack made no sense. .

“At the end of the day, they want you to believe that Jussie was stupid enough to pay for a hoax with a check, but was smart enough to pay (for supplies) with a $ 100 bill,” he said.

As for Uche’s suggestion that another assailant may have been involved, buried in nearly 500 pages of Chicago Police Department reports is a statement from a local who says he saw a white man with “Reddish brown hair” that seemed to be waiting for someone overnight. She told a detective that when the man turned away from her, she “could see what appeared to be a rope hanging under her jacket.”

His comments could support Smollett’s claim that his attackers draped a makeshift noose around his neck. Moreover, if she testified that the man was white, it would corroborate Smollett’s statements – widely ridiculed because the brothers, who are from Nigeria, are black – that he saw the pale or white skin around the eyes of the man. one of his masked attackers.

The 12 jurors plus two alternates who took the oath on Monday evening should be presented surveillance video from more than four dozen cameras which police examined to trace the movements of the brothers before and after the reported attack, as well as a video showing the brothers purchasing supplies hours earlier.

Webb told jurors prosecutors had hundreds of hours of video and a still shot from a camera near Smollett’s apartment that shows him walking up the stairs after the alleged attack, with a clothesline around his neck and still carrying a sandwich he bought that night.

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