CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago jury has convicted Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson’s former brother-in-law of murdering her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in what prosecutors described as an act of vengeance by a jilted husband.
The jury convicted 31-year-old William Balfour on three-counts of first degree murder on Friday, after three days of deliberations. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Hudson eyes filled with tears and she shook her head at bit her lip as the verdict was read.
Prosecutors had to build an overwhelming circumstantial case tying Balfour to the killings because there were no surviving witnesses. Defense 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.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
Jurors have reached a verdict in the trial of the man charged with murdering three of Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson’s family members, Chicago court officials announced Friday afternoon.
The verdict is scheduled to be read at 4:30 p.m. CDT. Jurors deliberated for three days in the case of Hudson’s former brother-in-law, William Balfour. He’s charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the October 2008 shooting deaths of Hudson’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.
Hudson was the first witness called and has attended every day of testimony in the trial. She is expected to be on hand when the verdict is read.
Balfour would face a mandatory life prison sentence if convicted on all counts.
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. Defense attorneys argued the evidence tying Balfour to the October 2008 killings is circumstantial.
The announcement about the verdict came after jurors sent the judge a note saying they were split on the verdict. The jury did not say it was giving up, though.
“We are trying,” jurors said in their note.
With no surviving witnesses to the Oct. 24, 2008, slayings, prosecutors built a circumstantial case against Balfour by calling 83 witnesses over 11 days of testimony. Witnesses said he threatened to kill the entire family if Julia Hudson spurned him.
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.
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 Oct. 24, 2008, prosecutors say Balfour went back inside the home with a .45-caliber handgun and shot Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in the back; he allegedly then shot Jason Hudson, 29, twice in the head as he lay in bed.
Prosecutors say Balfour then drove off in Jason Hudson’s SUV with Julia’s son, Julian King, 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.