by Mugo Odigwe and Charlie De Mar
CHICAGO (CBS) – Testimony resumed Wednesday, day three of Jussie Smollett’s trial, as a Chicago police detective recalled questioning Smollett in hospital after police and prosecutors launched a hoax.
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Smollett faces six counts of misconduct, accused of lying to Chicago police when he claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in January 2019.
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, had told police he was assaulted on his way home around 2 a.m. on January 29, 2019. He claimed two masked men – one of them them also wearing a red hat – shouted racist and homophobic slurs. as they beat him, tied a noose around his neck and poured a chemical product on him. Police and prosecutors said Smollett orchestrated it himself, paying two brothers $ 3,500 to help organize the attack.
The first person on the stand Wednesday was Chicago Police Detective Kimberly Murray. Smollett is accused of lying to her when she took a report of her attack.
Murray described Smollett’s injuries as minor, adding that he refused to hand over his cell phone records after reporting he received a threatening phone call before the attack, in which the caller said: ” Hey you asshole, “though police said their phone records would be helpful in determining who made the call and establishing a timeline of events.
She also said Smollett refused to hand over any medical records she wanted to document about the injuries he sustained. She also asked Smollett for a cheek swab to try and collect any DNA from the rope that was tied around her neck during the attack, but he also refused.
We are still awaiting the testimony of the Osundairo brothers, the two policemen say that Smollett paid to carry out the attack.
Entering the courthouse on Wednesday, Abel Osundairo said he was ready to speak the truth when he finally spoke.
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“I am ready to do what I have to do. Tell the truth, not my truth, ”he said.
In opening statements on Monday, Smollett’s defense attorney insisted that he was really the victim of an attack by brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, and claimed that the police were rushed to judge Smollett by accusing Smollett of having orchestrated a hoax.
But Chicago Police Detective Michael Theis, a senior investigator in the case who was the first person called to the witness stand in Smollett’s trial on Tuesday, disputed that there was an urgency to render a judgment in the case.
Theis explained to the jury exactly how Smollett went from victim to suspect. He said 24 to 26 officers were dedicated to solving the crime reported by Smollett, working there for more than 3,000 combined hours and reviewing at least 1,500 hours of surveillance video.
“It was horrible. The crime was a hate crime. There was a noose. There was bleach, ”Detective Theis said. “The mayor downstairs – everyone wanted answers. They wanted to know what had happened.
Police were looking for two men seen in grainy video as possible suspects, but detectives were unsure who the men were. Then came a major break in the matter. Brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo were identified from a carpool video they took the night of the attack.
Smollett went on national television and said he was certain the men in the surveillance video were his attackers. The detectives believed they had solved the case.
Once in custody, the brothers told investigators it was all a hoax. Police then spent days trying to determine if the brothers’ story added up.
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“At the end of the investigation, we determined that the alleged hate crime was in fact a staged event – and the hate crime did not take place,” Theis said.