Jennifer Hudson Family Murder Trial: Guilty on All Counts
CHICAGO, May 11, 2012
A jury has found William Balfour guilty of murdering actress Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in 2008.
Balfour, 31, was accused of killing the three in a jealous rage, believing that his estranged wife, Julia Hudson, Jennifer Hudson's sister, was dating another man.
The jury found Balfour guilty of all counts against him after some 18 hours of deliberations over three days.
Balfour was charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty. With the convictions on all counts, he faces life in prison.
Jennifer Hudson, who entered the courtroom with her fiance and her sister, Julia Hudson, silently cried as the verdict read. Her fiance held her hand and rubbed her back.
After the verdict, Balfour's attorney, Cook County Public Defender Amy Thompson, again characterized the case against Balfour as circumstantial and maintained his innocence. She said there would be an appeal.
"We are disappointed in the verdict, but we do appreciate all of the hard work the jury did in this case," she told reporters afterwards. "We're hoping that the appellate court will take a look at this case with a very critical eye."
The announcement that there was a verdict came shortly after the jury told Judge Charles Burns that it was split but, according to The Associated Press, told him in a note, "We are trying." Burns ordered a resumption of deliberations in hopes of the jury reaching an agreement.
The trial began on April 23 in Chicago. Prosecutors called more than 80 witnesses over two weeks, and the defense rested its case after 30 minutes, calling only two witnesses to the stand. Balfour did not testify.
Prosecutors alleged that Balfour fatally shot Hudson's mother Darnell Donerson, 57, in her living room, and then shot Hudson's brother Jason Hudson, 29, as he lay in bed. He then kidnapped Hudson's nephew Julian King, who was 7. Investigators believe the boy was shot in the head as he lay behind the front seat of an SUV.
Prosecuting State Attorney Veryl Gambino said Balfour was in a state of rage over Julia Hudson's dating another man, and said Balfour had issued several threats against her and her family. Balfour allegedly was enraged Oct. 24, 2008, after he saw balloons another man sent to Julia Hudson and punched them.
Julia Hudson found her mother's body in her home and initially thought she had fallen. It wasn't until she saw blood that she realized something worse had taken place. Julia Hudson ran screaming from the house and called 911.
The killings happened in the family home in Chicago's tough Englewood neighborhood, where Jennifer Hudson grew up.
In Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Bagby's closing arguments, she said that Balfour "was fueled by his obsession, his jealousy, his determination to catch his wife, Julia Hudson, with another man. She didn't want him around, her family didn't want him around. But in his mind, she was his wife, and if he couldn't have her, no one could."
Bagby punctuated her narrative by frequently quoting Balfour's allegedly repeated threat to his estranged wife: "If you leave me, I will kill you. I will kill your family first. You will be the last to die."
While the defense argued no physical evidence linked Balfour to the murders, prosecutors spent significant portions of their closing arguments focusing on what they said was important physical evidence in this case.
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