It was a bad day for Jussie Smollett, according to Ernest Owens of The Daily Beast, who said Tuesday’s cross-examination “felt like a masterclass in how to zero in on details and seal the deal,” and described in detail how Special Prosecutor Dan Webb “nailed” the former Empire star.
For example, despite Smollett denying that he recruited the Osundairo brothers to stage the attack, Webb nevertheless managed to get him to admit that he had driven around with them prior to the alleged attack.
Owens noted that “as Webb kept pressing him on specifics, Smollett grew more and more visibly frustrated.”
“Do you have any reason to disagree with police testimony that you passed by the intersection three times?” Webb asked Smollett during the trial.
“I don’t know. I circled around the block,” Smollett replied.
“How long were you there?”
“Well you have the surveillance, you have to tell me,” Smollett snapped back. “It was three years ago.”
Owens said it was clear that Webb had “punctured a nerve” with Smollett. “After the actor tried to cast doubt on Abimbola’s testimony by claiming the two had been in a sexual relationship, Webb put the focus back on Smollett, pressing him in an intense series of back-and-forth exchanges about the specific details of the night in question,” he explained. “These included whether Smollett thought a Walgreens was open for 24 hours, why he was looking for eggs in the middle of the night, whether or not he’d asked Abimbola about a workout that night, and on and on until the actor seemed to hit a breaking point.”
Webb then called out the actor for his “non-responsive” answers to the questions, at which point Smollett told the judge “I’m just concerned about answering yes or no.”
“Please, please,” the judge told him. “It’s the same for all witnesses, it’s not personal to you. The lawyer asks questions, you answer them.”
“By the end of his cross-examination, Webb had left many lingering questions about Smollett’s account of what happened for jurors to consider,” Owens recounted. “Among them: If Smollett had delayed a workout with Abimbola that night, as he testified, why were there no follow up messages or calls about that?”
Webb also asked Smollett if the injuries he sustained during the alleged attack impacted his career.
“Mr. Webb, I have a scar under my eye that looks like a bag for the rest of my life,” Smollett told him. He also mentioned a “black circle” on his face. “It’s absolutely a problem.”
Then Webb showed Smollett a photo of himself on Good Morning America from an appearance that took place after the attack, and there was no sign of the marks on his face.
Jussie credited Hollywood makeup for the missing markings.
Oops. “Damn, Jussie — how did you let him get you like that?” asked Owens.
Defense attorney Nenye Uche then tried to recover with some extra questions, but, as Owens noted, the damage had already been done.
“It appears that the once-celebrated star may have bitten off more than he could chew by choosing to take the stand.”
On the contrary, he bit off more than he could chew when he decided to revive his career with a fake hate crime.