Jussie Smollett denies staging attack during contentious cross-examination: Reports

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·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
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  • Jussie Smollett
    Jussie Smollett
    American actor
Jussie Smollett maintains his innocence at his trial for allegedly lying to police about 2019 hate crime.
Jussie Smollett maintains his innocence at his trial for allegedly lying to police about 2019 hate crime. (Photo: Reuters)

Jussie Smollett's testimony concluded on Tuesday as the actor maintained his innocence during cross-examination, which got contentious at times. The former Empire star, 39, is accused of staging his own hate crime in 2019 and lying to police, something he declared under oath is false. 

According to multiple outlets, exchanges between Smollett and special prosecutor Dan Webb became combative during a portion of his two hour testimony. On Tuesday, Webb focused on private messages the actor sent on Instagram to Abimbola "Bola" Osundairo. Bola and his brother, "Ola," previously testified they were paid by Smollett to carry out the fake attack to get the attention of the actor's bosses.

Smollett and Bola exchanged messages on Jan. 28, the night before the alleged attack, when the actor was traveling back to Chicago. Prosecutors claim the actor was keeping Bola updated on his delayed flight as it would impact plans for the supposed hoax attack planned upon his return.

"Mr. Webb, with all due respect you don't understand Instagram," Smollett exclaimed, per CNN, as he said there was a difference between responding to an Instagram story versus sending an independent direct message.

Related video: Jussie Smollett takes the stand in trial for allegedly lying to police

"I don't understand Instagram," Webb replied, saying he wanted to focus on the private messages. "If you could answer your questions, and not volunteer answers, I would be grateful."

"I'm sure you would," Smollett fired back.

Webb read one of the messages aloud that included the N-word, which the prosecutor purportedly said multiple times. 

"Can you just say 'the N-word' or spell the word?" Smollett objected. "Out of respect for every African American here."

Webb apologized and let Smollett read the messages to the jury. According to the New York Post, the actor was combative again as he did not like Webb's line of questioning. 

"There's also no messages about an attack, yet I'm on trial for an attack [I] didn't do," Smollett said at one point. He also denied doing a "dry run" with the Osundairo brothers two days before the alleged attack.

Jurors saw footage of Smollett riding around his neighborhood with the Osundairo brothers two days before the supposed hate crime occurred. According to CNN, Webb pointed out that they passed the staircase three times where the alleged attack unfolded, to which Smollett responded, "It was around my apartment." Smollett denied directing the brothers during the ride along where he wanted the "attack" to take place.

According to Fox News, which also described the cross-examination as contentious, Smollett's attorney claimed the Osundairo brothers tried to extort the actor for $1 million in exchange for telling the police that they did not stage the attack. Smollett said during a redirect from the prosecution that the brothers did not reach out to him directly, but did so through their representatives.

The actor, who is Black and gay, testified in his own defense for five hours on Monday and another two on Tuesday. He talked about his relationship with the Osundairo brothers as the defense suggested that homophobia was a motive for the attack. Smollett testified he had a sexual relationship with Bola, who denied those claims on the stand last week.

Smollett pleaded not guilty to six counts of disorderly conduct for filing false police reports. If convicted, he faces a possible sentence of three years in prison. Given the actor has no prior criminal history, it's likely he'll get put on probation and be required to perform community service if found guilty. Closing arguments will begin on Wednesday.