Jurors reach verdict in Jennifer Hudson family murder trial - FOX 32 News Chicago

Jurors reach verdict in Jennifer Hudson family murder trial

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Jurors have reached a verdict in the trial of William Balfour, who is accused of murdering three members of actress Jennifer Hudson's family in Chicago in October of 2008.

The verdict will be read at 4:30 p.m. and FOX Chicago News will bring it to you as soon as it's in.

The verdict came two days after prosecutors showed jurors gruesome crime scene photos of Darnell Donnerson, 57, Jason Hudson, 29, and Julian Hudson, 7. The prosecution said that Balfour killed the victims to get revenge on his estranged wife, Julia Hudson, who was Julian's mother.

Jennifer Hudson, who attended every day of testimony in her former brother-in-law's murder trial, bent forward, her head on her knee, and sobbed as prosecutor Jennifer Bagby gave closing arguments and described what she called "the execution" of Hudson's mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.

Julia Hudson fiddled nervously with a piece of string as Bagby described how her ex-husband allegedly shot her son Jason King, whom she called Juice Box, through the head.

Balfour "left that innocent child to die in his own pool of blood," covered by an old shower curtain, Bagby told jurors, who looked on intently, with many of them taking notes.

Bagby also said physical evidence links Balfour to the crime, and that jurors have "overwhelming circumstantial evidence."

 

She took time to describe what circumstantial evidence, saying it is everything short of a direct witness.

Dressed in a white dress shirt and striped tie, Balfour sat impassively at the defense table during closing arguments, as he had for most of the two-week trial.

Public defender Amy Thompson told jurors Thursday that she was "offended" that prosecutors "would ask you to throw your logic away."

The defense presented only two quick witnesses Tuesday - two detectives who had testified earlier - in a bid to suggest investigators botched the triple-homicide investigation. Balfour himself chose not to testify.

One detective conceded he wrote in a 2008 report that a witness saw the SUV in which Jason's body was found after 6 p.m. a day after the killings. He told prosecutors the witness saw it after 6 a.m. He said he made a mistake in the original report.

The other detective admitted he hadn't listed keys found on Balfour in a 2008 report. Another item not initially mentioned was Balfour's unused transit card, evidence that prosecutors say discredited Balfour's alibi that he took the subway the day of the slayings.

Balfour's attorneys suggested that Hudson's brother's alleged crack-cocaine dealing might have led to the killings. They offered no testimony to support that theory.

A total of 85 witnesses testified. Hudson was the first witness called to testify in the trial, and she told jurors about the last time she saw her three family members alive and spoke endearingly about her nephew, whom she called Tugga Bear. The boy's body was found in a stolen SUV, 3 days later.

Balfour pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder. If convicted on all counts, he faces a mandatory life prison term.

Prosecutors say Balfour used a .45-caliber handgun to shoot Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in the living room of the Hudson family home Oct. 24, 2008, then shot Hudson's 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson, in the head as he lay in bed.

Balfour allegedly then abducted Jason and shot him as he lay behind a front seat. His body was found in the abandoned vehicle miles away after a three-day search.

The Hudson family has had numerous supporters in the courtroom. Balfour's mother has been observing all the testimony.

There is no direct evidence linking Balfour to the murder weapon or the scene of the crime so the case is considered to be based on circumstantial evidence.

Early on, Julia Hudson testified Balfour told her he would kill her, kill her family first and she would be the last to die. The prosecution alleges he made good on those threats and has repeated those words several times.

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