A CHICAGO jury has convicted Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson’s former brother-in-law of murdering her mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew in what prosecutors described as an act of vengeance by a jilted husband.
The jury convicted William Balfour, 31, on three-counts of first degree murder on Friday, after three days of deliberations. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Prosecutors had to build an overwhelming circumstantial case tying Balfour to the killings because there were no surviving witnesses. Defence attorneys claimed the killings could have been related to Hudson’s brother’s alleged drug dealing.
Hudson was the first witness called to the stand and she attended every day of testimony.
Balfour’s attorneys proposed an alternate theory: that someone else in the crime-ridden neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side targeted the family because of alleged crack-cocaine dealing by Jennifer Hudson’s brother, Jason Hudson.
During the 30 minutes in which they called just two witnesses, however, they presented no evidence to support that theory.
Jennifer Hudson, who was in Florida at the time of the killings, attended every day of the two weeks of testimony, sobbing when photos of her relatives’ bloodied bodies were displayed to jurors during closing arguments.
Known for wearing designer dresses on Hollywood’s red carpets, Hudson wore toned-down clothes at the trial, often all black.
Hudson, 30, rose to prominence as a 2004 American Idol finalist.
But she became a bona fide star for her performance in the film adaptation of the musical, Dreamgirls, for which she won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Hudson was the first witness prosecutors called to testify, and during her more than 30 minutes on the stand she talked about her murdered family members and spoke endearingly about her nephew, Julian King, whom she called Tugga Bear.
She said she knew Balfour since the eighth grade but always deeply disliked him.
Balfour had lived in the Hudsons’ three-story Englewood home after marrying Julia Hudson in 2006.
He moved out in early 2008 after falling out with his wife, but witnesses told jurors he often stalked the home.
The jury deliberated for three days and found Balfour guilty on all counts, including three of first-degree murder. He now faces a mandatory life-sentence in prison.
The killings occurred the morning after Julia Hudson’s birthday, and prosecutors said he became enraged when he stopped by the home and saw a gift of balloons in the house from her new boyfriend.
After his estranged wife left for her job as a bus driver on the morning of October 24, 2008, prosecutors said Balfour went back inside the home with a .45-caliber handgun and shot Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in the back.
He then shot Jason Hudson, 29, twice in the head as he lay in bed.
Prosecutors said Balfour then drove off in Jason Hudson’s SUV with Julian – Julia’s son, whom she called Juice Box – and shot the boy several times in the head as he lay behind a front seat.
His body was found in the abandoned vehicle miles away after a three-day search.
The defence tried to counter the portrayal of Balfour as an embittered husband by noting Julia Hudson continued to have sex with him until days before the killings.
Prosecutors say he killed the three victims in a jealous rage after his then-estranged wife, Hudson’s sister Julia Hudson, refused to reconcile with him.
The announcement about the verdict came after jurors sent the judge a note saying they were split.
– Culled from Dailymail