Jussie Smollett’s lawyer compares alleged attackers to drug lord Pablo Escobar

Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Courts Building

The closing arguments in Jussie Smollett’s trial took an unexpected turn after his lawyer compared his alleged attackers to Pablo Escobar.

Smollett faces six felony disorderly conduct charges for allegedly staging a hate crime hoax against himself in 2019, and he could serve a prison sentence of three years if found guilty.

On Wednesday (8 December), Smollett’s defence attorney Nenye Uche likened the former Empire star’s alleged attackers to the Columbian drug lord Escobar due to the fact a small amount of cocaine was found in their home, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Smollett’s trial began at the Leighton Criminal Court in Chicago, Illinois on 29 November and has seen his defence attorneys question the prosecution’s star witnesses, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, two brothers who had worked on Empire as extras, and who Smollett says attacked him.

Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollett at Leighton Criminal Court in 2019 (E. JASON WAMBSGANS/AFP/Getty)

The pair were arrested shortly after the alleged January 2019 incident after they were seen on surveillance footage purchasing ski masks, gloves and a red hat, all items involved in the alleged attack.

Police initially spent thousands of hours investigating the incident as a hate crime, before they later concluded that Jussie Smollett had staged the attack.

The brothers then went on to claim that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the hate crime, asking them to dress up in red hats to appear like MAGA Trump supporters.

During the trial, Smollett’s attorneys have attempted to undermine the testimony of the brothers, claiming that the pair are untrustworthy because Abimbola had a sexual interaction with the actor while also arguing that his brother Olabinjo may be homophobic.

Abimbola has denied ever dating Smollett after the latter claimed they had masturbated together. Abimbola admitted that he and Smollett had partied together in the past, but repeatedly stated he is not gay.

Closing arguments saw Jussie Smollett’s attorneys reiterate their claims that the Osundairo brothers had “attacked the actor” due to Olabingo’s “homophobia” and Abimbola’s “self-hatred”. It was also argued that it had been a move to convince Smollett to hire them as security.

According to the Associated Press, special prosecutor Dan Webb insisted that Smollett caused the Chicago police to spend a large amount of resources investigating the alleged attack which they now believe to be fake.

“Besides being against the law, it is just plain wrong to outright denigrate something as serious as a real hate crime and then make sure it involved words and symbols that have such historical significance in our country,” he told the jury.

The lawyer also accused Jussie Smollett of lying to jurors as he argued that surveillance video from before the alleged attack and on the night contradicts key parts of Smollett’s testimony.

He added: “At the end of the day, he lacks any credibility whatsoever,” Webb said.

After hearing the closing arguments on both sides, the jury deliberated for about two hours on Wednesday but had not reached a verdict before they broke for the day.

They will resume deliberations today (9 December).