CHICAGO (WGN) — The trial of former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett will now move to the closing arguments phase after Smollett’s defense attorneys rested their case Tuesday.
Smollett, 39, was charged last year with six counts of disorderly conduct after he allegedly lied to police about a phony hate crime attack in Chicago that, prosecutors say, he orchestrated on a frigid night in January 2019.
Much of Monday’s and Tuesday’s proceedings featured Smollett testifying in his own defense. The actor repeatedly denied the existence of a hoax and his alleged involvement in a scheme.
“Have you ever planned a hoax?” Smollett’s attorney Nenye Uche asked him Monday.
“Never in my life,” Smollett replied.
Smollett was cross-examined by Dan Webb, the former U.S. attorney who was appointed special prosecutor in the case after Smollett’s initial criminal charges were dropped in 2019.
Smollett was largely calm and collected during his testimony, though there were a few moments in which he complained that some of the details in Webb’s questions were inaccurate. Eventually, Cook County Judge James Linn chided Smollett.
“You can only answer questions that are asked,” Linn said. “You can’t volunteer information.”
Linn dismissed the jury around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, and closing arguments are set to begin Wednesday morning before jury deliberations begin.
Christopher Melcher is a legal expert and attorney who represents celebrities, including Kanye West. He joined NewsNation Prime to discuss Smollett’s testimony. See the interview in the player below.