Tearful Jennifer Hudson's Testimony Opens Family's Murder Trial
Hudson's name was one among 300 potential witnesses for the prosecution, one whose presence during the trial was speculated to possibly be a hindrance to a pure verdict, and the one whose tearful words opened the proceedings this morning. Courtroom spokesman Terry Sullivan told the AP this morning that Hudson was not present in the courtoom for opening statements by the defense for William Balfour and the prosecution. Balfour faces first-degree murder charges connected with the 2008 shooting deaths of Hudson's mother, brother and nephew, allegedly in a jealous rage at Jennifer's sister (and Balfour's estranged wife) Julia Hudson having a new boyrfriend.
Jennifer reporteldy kept her composure as she started her near-30 minute testimony describing her family disapproving of Julia's relationship with Balfour, but became tearful as she described the final time she'd seen her three deceased loved ones, the Sunday before their deaths.
Though Balfour has pleaded not-guilty to the charges, prosecutors asked that Hudson identify the defendant, resulting in a brief moment in which Balfour's eyes met Hudson's. Prosecutor Veryl Gambino claimed during opening statements that Balfour's threats against Hudson's family began when he moved out of the family's home. Lead prosecutor James McKay claimed that Balfour once told Julia, "If you ever leave me, I'm going to kill you, but I'm going to kill your family first." The Hudsons initially paid it little mind, McKay claimed.
"Those were not idle threates . . . They were deadly warnings of what was to come," Gambino said.
For Balfour's defense, attorney Amy Thompson countered that Jennifer's fame placed a weight upon authorities that demanded an arrest.
"As soon as that [that a celebrity was linked to the case] became known, they knew coverage would explode," Thompson argued. "The police were on the hook. They had to find their man and find him fast."
Judge Charles Burns began the proceedings explicitly instructing that jurors set aside any sympathies rooted in Hudson's celebrity status.