Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

William Balfour Found Guilty in Slayings of Jennifer Hudson’s Family Members

Jennifer Hudson (center,) with sister Julia (left,) mother Darnell and nephew Julian. (Getty Images/Bruce Glikas)

After 18 hours of deliberation, an Illinois jury has found William Balfour, 31, guilty on three counts of first-degree murder in the 2008 killings of singer Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew. During the trial, which began on April 23, Hudson testified that Balfour, who was married to her sister, Julia Hudson, did not get along with the family and would often become jealous over petty things.  ”He was jealous. Wouldn’t like anybody to do anything. Everything was a problem,” Hudson said on the stand. Balfour and Julia Hudson married in 2006, without telling Hudson’s family. “None of us wanted her to marry him. We did not like how he treated her… I tried to keep my distance from William,” said Hudson. At the time of the murders, Julia was estranged from Balfour and had asked for a divorce.

William Balfour, 31.Balfour’s defense argued that there was no DNA or other forensic evidence linking Balfour to the murders of Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57,  brother Jason Hudson, 29, and 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, Julia’s son from a previous relationship. However, prosecutor Jim McKay contended that “a tsunami of circumstatial evidence” clearly pointed to Balfour’s guilt. The prosecution painted Balfour as a jealous man and “a true coward,” who ended three innocent lives because he though his wife was cheating on him. Despite his apparent disdain for infidelity, Balfour was revealed to have a mistress. During her testimony, Shonta Cathey told the court that Balfour had confessed the murders to her: “He say he went in and the brother rushed him, and he shot him, and the mother was coming down the stairs, calling his name, and he shot her.” According to court documents, Balfour shot Donerson and Hudson in their Chicago home. He kidnapped King and shot him later, in the back of the SUV he stole from Jason Hudson. In her closing arguments, Cook County prosecutor Jennifer Bagby said Balfour threatened Julia before the murders, telling her, “If you leave me, I’ll kill you. I’ll kill your family first. You’ll be the last to die.”

In addition to the three murder charges, Balfour was found guilty of home invasion, residential burglary, aggravated kidnapping and possession of a stolen vehicle. He faces life in prison.

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