A jury found William Balfour guilty in the murders of R&B singer Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew Friday afternoon in a high profile trial that forced the Oscar-winning songstress to tears several times in the courtroom as she heard descriptions of how her family was killed.
Prosecutors were able to convince jurors, who deliberated for three days, that Balfour, 31, became jealous over estranged spouse Julia Hudson’s new relationship; and that he then flew into a jealous rage. Prosecutors said that Balfour went to the family’s home on Chicago’s South Side and shot Hudson’s mother Darnell Donerson, 57; her brother Jason, 29, while he was sleeping; and then abducted Julia’s son Julian King, 7, in Jason’s SUV. The boy was found dead in the vehicle after a three-day search.
Balfour, already a convicted felon who was on parole, claimed that he was not near the home at the time of the killings. His alibi was that he was on public transportation, but detectives found that his CTA card had not been used all day. There were no actual witnesses and defense attorneys say gunshot residue found on the steering wheel of his car, among other evidence, did not prove he was the killer. They in fact hinted that the home the family lived in doubled as a place for Jason to run a cocaine dealing business, drawing murderous enemies.
It was still not enough to convince the jury that Balfour was telling the truth about his whereabouts at the time of the killing, particularly after they saw two videos: one from a high school showing the approximate time his car was left on the street, and another of Balfour’s interrogation with him saying he left it there about at 8:30 a.m. Prosecutors maintained the time stamp on the car proved that Balfour was lying about his whereabouts that day.
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Hudson, a gold-selling R&B singer and American Idol finalist, won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role the 2006 film Dreamgirls. She sobbed softly as relatives comforted her, while she sat with her fiancé, wrestler David Otunga.
She was the first witness to take the stand in the trial and testified that immediately following the murders, she flew back to Chicago first to identify her mother and brother in a morgue, then offered $100,000 to locate her nephew. “We were trying everything, anything we could do to get him back.”
Her relationship with Balfour was rocky, she testified; she said she had warned her sister, along with other family members, against marrying Balfour. “I tried to keep my distance with William any chance I got.”
Post-trial motions are set for June 8. It is unclear when Balfour will be sentenced.