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Guilty verdict in Hudson family murder trial

Written By: kkeithnr - May• 11•12

Matt Sayles / AP

Jennifer Hudson

The man accused of killing three members of Grammy and Oscar winning actress Jennifer Hudson’s family was found guilty on all seven counts Friday afternoon.

Chicago Tribune reporter Stacy St. Clair tweeted that Hudson, who has attended court regularly, was in court, wearing a black-and-white shawl, and accompanied by her sister and by her fiance, David Otunga. St. Clair reported that Hudson cried softly after the verdict and slumped against Otunga’s shoulder, then stood on tiptoe to watch the jury walk out of the courtroom.

The verdict came just hours after the panel had told Judge Charles Burns of Cook County Court that they were split but would continue deliberating.

William Balfour, 31, was accused of shooting to death Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57; her brother Jason Hudson, 29; and her nephew Julian King, 7. The only possible sentence for the Oct. 24, 2008, slayings is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Attorneys for Balfour said they would file a motion for a new trial on June 8 and will then appeal the verdict.

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. During the 30 minutes in which they called just two witnesses, however, they presented no evidence to support that theory.

Hudson was the first witness prosecutors called to testify, and during her more than 30 minutes on the stand, she talked about her murdered family members and spoke endearingly about her nephew, Julian King, whom she called Tugga Bear. She said she knew Balfour since the eighth grade but always deeply disliked him.

Balfour had lived in the Hudsons’ three-story Englewood home after marrying Julia Hudson in 2006. He moved out in early 2008 after falling out with his wife, but witnesses told jurors he often stalked the home.

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 said 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 said Balfour then drove off in Jason Hudson’s SUV with Julian — Julia’s son, whom she called Juice Box — 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.

The defense tried to counter the portrayal of Balfour as an embittered husband by noting Julia Hudson continued to have sex with him until just days before the killings.

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