Balfour Convicted In Hudson Family Slayings
A Chicago jury Friday afternoon convicted William Balfour, 31, of three first-degree murder counts in the slaying of Jennifer Hudson's family, Reuters reports.
Hudson's former brother-in-law on October 21, 2008 broke into the home of his estranged wife Julia Hudson - the Oscar and Grammy-winner's sister - while she was at work and shot the sisters' mother Darnell Donerson, 57, and brother Jason Hudson, 29, killing both.
He then kidnapped Julia's son by another man, Julian King, 7, in his SUV before eventually shooting and killing him, as well. Julia found her mother and brother upon returning that evening. Julian was found in Balfour's vehicle three days later, covered with a shower curtain. The prosecution claimed during the trial that Balfour went on a rampage because Julia would not take him back and had begun seeing someone new.
As the verdict was read, Jennifer reportedly shook her head and bit her lip as her eyes filled with tears. Her testimony that her family had never approved of Julia's relationship with Balfour opened the trial, preceded by the judge's instructions that the jury disregard her position of fame. By the time testimony ended, jurors heard from 83 total witnesses for the prosecution over an 11-day evidentiary phase.
Balfour now faces a mandatory life sentence.
Balfour's defense team countered that the slayings were committed by someone from the Hudsons' neighborhood on Chicago's South Side was targeting Jason for alleged crack-cocaine dealing. The defense called only two witnesses in 30 minutes before resting. Neither openly supported the theory.
Showing the jury photos of Balfour's alleged victims bodies juxtaposed next to stills of them while alive, prosecutor Jennifer Bagby claimed during her May 9 closing argument that Balfour "made them into these images." She described how Balfour had allegedly left Julian's body covered with a shower curtain.
Amy Thompson, Balfour's public defender, countered that the prosecution had proved nothing and told jurors she claimed to be "offended that they would ask you to throw your logic away.
Bagby countered by clarifying the definition of circumstantial evidence: any evidence short of an eyewitness. That would include, she argued, gunshot residue found on Balfour's green Chrysler's steering wheel and bullets from all three bodies matched forensically to the same gun.
"Make no mistake, there is physical evidence . . . linking him to the murders. You have overwhelming circumstantial evidence," Bagby said. "Contrary to what you may have heard on television . . . circumstantial evidence isn't lesser evidence."
In his closing words, lead prosecutor James McKay proclaimed that "calling the defendant a dog is an insult to dogs!
"I don't know what the acoustics are like in this courtroom," McKay said, reportedly pointing at Thompson. "But what in the world was she listening to here (during two weeks of testimony?"