Jussie Smollett was allegedly seen on video conducting a dry run of his attack the day before it took place, further lending credence to the prosecution’s claims that he orchestrated the whole thing.
During opening arguments on Monday, special prosecutor Dan Webb told the jury that Smollett was upset that a threatening hate letter that was sent to the studio behind “Empire” wasn’t taken seriously enough. As a result, Webb is hoping to convince a jury that the actor hired brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo to attack him.
One potentially damning piece of evidence teased during Webb’s opening arguments was that there is surveillance video showing Smollett and the two siblings, who he worked with on “Empire,” doing a kind of “dry run” of the attack in the area the day before it allegedly took place.
The prosecution will allege what the Osundairo brothers have already told investigators, that they were cut a check for $3,500 after the dry run and given $100 in cash to get supplies to stage the attack at Smollett’s behest.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Nenye Uche said the two brothers attacked Smollett in January 2019 because they didn’t like him, and that the check the actor paid the men was for training so he could prepare for an upcoming music video, not as payment for staging a hate crime, as prosecutors allege.
After opening arguments, the prosecution got right into showing the jury surveillance video painstakingly gathered by the Chicago Police Department that showed the Osundairo brothers walking around near Smollett on the night of the attack. Chicago police detective Michael Theis reviewed how a series of surveillance, security and doorbell camera footage was used to track the brothers’ movements on the night of the attack and ultimately identify them as the culprits.
However, Smollett and his attorney also allege that a third attacker was involved. There is little to no evidence going into the trial to support that, but Uche seems confident that it will help prove his client’s innocence. Uche noted during his opening argument that there is not a “shred” of physical evidence proving Smollett faked the attack.
Currently, it is Smollett’s word against the Osundairo siblings. However, prosecutors seem to think that the video evidence collected by the police, including the alleged dry run of the attack, will prove their case to a jury.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.