by Seyi Lawal
31-year-old William Balfour, former brother-in-law to US actress and singer, Jennifer Hudson was found guilty yesterday of murdering her mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew.
Balfour was convicted on three counts of first degree murder and now faces a mandatory life sentence. The prosecutors described the killings as an act of vengeance by a jilted husband and also alleged drug dealing to have played a part. Balfour, a former gang member, was the estranged husband of Hudson’s sister Julia at the time of the triple murders.
Reports confirm that Hudson, 30, was an emotional wreck during the trial that took a couple of weeks to end. She was visibly overwhelmed by emotion as the verdict was read; her eyes filled with tears as she shook her head and bit her lip. Hudson, who was in Florida at the time of the killings, sobbed when photos of her relatives’ bloodied bodies was displayed to jurors during closing arguments.
Over 80 witnesses were called and most of them said Balfour threatened to kill the entire family if Julia Hudson rejected him. The murders happened in the morning after Julia Hudson’s birthday, prosecutors claim Balfour became angry when he stopped by the home and saw a gift of balloons in the house from her new boyfriend. Balfour who had lived in the Hudsons’ three-storey Englewood home after marrying Julia Hudson in 2006, was said to have gone into the house after his estranged wife left for her job as a bus driver on the morning of October 24, 2008 and with a .45-calibre handgun, he shot Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in the back, then shot Jason Hudson, 29, twice in the head as he lay in bed. Prosecutors said Balfour then drove off in Jason Hudson’s sport utility vehicle with Julian, Julia’s son – and shot the boy several times in the head as he lay behind a front seat.
But Balfour’s lawyers said it was not only their client who had issues with the Hudsons. According to their argument, 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.
The defence 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.