Chicago - A jury convicted Oscar-winner
Jennifer Hudson's former brother-in-law on Friday of murdering her mother,
brother and 7-year-old nephew in what prosecutors described as an act of
vengeance by a jilted husband.
Hudson, who expressed her undisguised disdain
for William Balfour when she took the witness stand and endured weeks of
excruciating testimony about the 2008 killings, was overcome with emotion as
the verdict was read. She bit her lip, tears welling in her eyes and streaming
down her cheeks. She then looked at her sister, Julia Hudson, and smiled.
The sisters left the courthouse without
speaking to reporters but released a statement on Friday night extending a prayer
to the Balfour family, saying "we have all suffered terrible loss in this
"It is our prayer that the Lord will
forgive Mr Balfour of these heinous acts and bring his heart into repentance
someday," they said in the statement, which also thanked prosecutors for
their "dedication and tireless work" and praised police and trial
Balfour, who faces a mandatory life prison
sentence, showed no emotion after the verdict. A few of his relatives looked
upset, one repeatedly shaking her head and muttering that the verdict was
Jurors deliberated for three days before
reaching their verdict against Balfour, a 31-year-old former gang member who
was the estranged husband of Julia Hudson at the time of the murders. Just an
hour before their unanimous verdict on all counts, jurors sent a note to the
judge that three jurors still weren't fully convinced of his guilt.
With no surviving witnesses to the October
24, 2008, slayings or fingerprints, 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 neighbourhood 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.
Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez,
who spoke to Hudson after the verdict, said the star was visibly relieved. She
said Hudson had been determined to attended every day of the trial out of a
sense of obligation to her mother.
"She told me, 'If it was me (who had
been killed) my mother would be here every day. So, I'm going to be here every
day,'" Alvarez said.
Public defender Amy Thompson said she would
appeal the verdict.
"It has always been our position and it
still is that William Balfour is innocent of these murders," Thompson
Alvarez reiterated to reporters what
prosecutors had told jurors: that the evidence against Balfour was
Jurors told reporters afterward that their
deliberations were thorough and cordial, and that Jennifer Hudson's celebrity
didn't influence them. They said it took time to piece everything together, and
that a key was cellphone records showing Balfour was in the area when the
Jennifer Hudson, who was in Florida at the
time, attended every day of the two weeks of testimony, sobbing when photos of
her relatives' bloodied, bullet-ridden bodies were displayed to jurors during
Alvarez said Hudson would not speak to the
media about the verdict but would release a statement "at the appropriate
The jury foreman said he hoped the verdict
would bring Hudson closure.
"I hope she can put this thing behind
her and get on with the rest of her life," Robert Smith, a 47-year-old
employee at Chicago Public Schools told reporters outside court.
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