Chicago, Ill. — Testifying in his own defense Monday, former Empire star Jussie Smollett forcefully denied that he had anything to do with staging a hoax hate crime against himself in January 2019, and instead laid out an alternate explanation for the events leading up to the alleged racist and homophobic attack that garnered national attention.

Smollett, 39, came across as composed, polite, and confident in laying out his version of events leading up to him being attacked outside his downtown Chicago apartment just after 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2019. His alleged attackers called Smollett racist and anti-gay slurs, fought

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