Did Jussie Smollett have a "dry run" of the "hate crime" attack caught on video?

Did Jussie Smollett have a "dry run" of the "hate crime" attack caught on video?
Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

The Jussie Smollett trial has certainly been packed with action thus far, much of it seeming problematic for the defense. The latest bit of bad news for the former Empire actor was some additional security video that was shown to the jury toward the end of the day on Tuesday. The video was from January 27, 2019, two days before the supposed “hate crime” attack. In it, Smollett is seen walking with the Osundairo brothers near the scene of the supposed attack. Prosecutors described this as a “dry run” for the incident, a claim that is apparently backed up by the brothers. After the alleged practice run, the brothers were captured on video going to purchase some of the materials they would use during the “attack.” (Daily Mail)

On Tuesday, jurors were shown footage of Smollett walking near the scene of the alleged attack with brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo on January 27, 2019.

The brothers are then seen going to the Crafty Beaver for rope, a beauty supply store for masks and hats and a bank to deposit the $3,500 check Smollett paid them to commit the act.

The brothers paid their bill at the beauty supply with a $100 bill Smollett gave them, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The problem with this latest bit of evidence is that without any audio of what was being discussed, Smollett’s attorneys have a fairly handy excuse available. The scene in question is within walking distance of where Smollett lived at the time. It really wouldn’t be that unusual for him to be out and about in the neighborhood. Also, the Osundairo brothers were already doing some work for him in various capacities during that period. So if he was seen picking them up or dropping them off it could be claimed that they were just running errands for him.

Of course, the timing certainly makes that excuse seem rather suspicious. Also, the Osundairo brothers are sitting right there in the courtroom ready to testify that the prosecutors’ interpretation is correct. The jury will eventually have to decide who is lying in this case. But the defense may point out that the Osundairo brothers do have an incentive to agree with the prosecution because they were granted immunity from being prosecuted for participating in the hoax in exchange for their testimony.

One detail that we previously discussed here does seem to have been at least partly cleared up. Yesterday I raised some questions about the mysterious hot sauce bottle that’s been featured in this week’s testimony. I noted that hot sauce bottles tend to be small and have stoppers that limit the amount of liquid that’s dispensed. But a close-up photo of the bottle emerged and it appears to either not come with that sort of a stopper or the stopper was removed, so it seems it could have been used in the fashion described.

The arguments being made by the defense in this case really aren’t as implausible as I’d imagined up until now, though they still seem pretty far-fetched. Smollett’s entire defense rests on his assertion that the Osundairo brothers only pretended to befriend him because he was paying them but they were secretly homophobes and decided to attack him for that reason. The defense backs this claim up with text messages taken from their phones describing gay people in a derogatory fashion. Further, another Empire actor who is also gay claimed that the brothers had accosted him in a similar fashion over his sexual orientation but the police never looked into that claim.

Is all of this going to be enough to create a sufficient amount of doubt in the mind of the jury to get Smollet off on these charges? It still sounds far too implausible to me, but who knows? Stranger things have happened in American courtrooms before.

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