The trail started today and jurors, along with court attendees were stunned as Jennifer was the first to be called to the stand to testify. Later on, her sister Julia Hudson was called to testify and they both gave moving, yet sad testimonies. Check out the reports below.
CHICAGO (AP) — The trial of the man accused of killing Jennifer Hudson's family opened with the marquee witness, as prosecutors put the award-winning actress and singer on the stand Monday for sometimes-tearful testimony that may well leave a lasting impression on jurors.
Hudson, wearing a simple, all-black black dress, broke down at one point, stopping to dab her tears and regain her composure, as she testified just yards from her former brother-in-law who prosecutors say killed her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in a horrific act of vindictiveness against Husdon's sister four years ago.
To the surprise of many observers, Hudson, the 2004 "American Idol" finalist and 2007 Oscar winner for her role in "Dreamgirls," was the first witness called after a prosecutor and defense attorney for William Balfour finished their opening statements. She had no testimony about shootings themselves but offered moving testimony about her family, including her reaction to her sister, Julia Hudson, telling her in 2006 she was marrying Balfour.
"None of us wanted her to marry him," Hudson said, her voice cracking and struggling to hold back tears. "We did not like how he treated her," she said.
Asked later if she was ever friends with Balfour, whom she knew from junior high school, Hudson answered with disgust.
"Never," she said firmly. "I tried to keep my distance from William Balfour."
Putting the star on the stand first was a shrewd move by prosecutors, according to one former federal prosecutor.
"It rivets the jury," said Phil Turner, a Chicago attorney. "For better or worse it increases the importance of the case in jurors' minds."
Judge Charles Burns has instructed jurors to set aside any sympathy for Hudson, but Turner said her presence is sure to be noted. And Hudson can now sit through the rest of the trial, in full view of the jury.
Witnesses typically are not allowed to watch trials until they have testified, Turner said.
"Now the jury knows everything about her and that she's in the courtroom only accentuates that this is an important case," he said.
When Hudson's sister, Julia Hudson, testified later in the day about her ex-husband's alleged threats against her family, Jennifer Hudson was watching from a fourth-row bench, clutching a pink bag of tissues. She bowed her head and wiped away tears as prosecutors played a recording of the 911 call her sister made after discovering their mother's bloodied body.
"Oh my God, oh my God," Julia Hudson is heard yelling at a dispatcher, who tells her to stop screaming because he can't understand her. "My momma, my momma!"
Balfour has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in the October 2008 slayings.
A silver and black .45-caliber pistol prosecutors allege is the murder weapon lay on the prosecutor's table not far from where Jennifer Hudson was sitting for much of the day.
With her hair up in a bun, Hudson at first seemed composed as a prosecutor began asking her questions and even as she leaned around the judge's bench to identify Balfour. But the testimony became increasingly difficult, and she began crying when talking about seeing her family the Sunday before the killings and later when a prosecutor showed her a picture of her mother.
Balfour slumped in his chair, resting his head on this head, but showed little emotion for most of the day.
After more than 30 minutes on the stand, Hudson grabbed a fistful of tissues and walked slowly across the courtroom directly in front of jurors. She then took a seat next to her fiance, David Otunga, best known for his stint on VH1's reality show "I Love New York."
Julia Hudson took the stand in the afternoon, testifying that her ex-husband was so prone to jealousy, he even became angry when her young son, Julian King, kissed her.
"He'd say, 'Get off my wife,'" she said.
She described for jurors the first of many alleged threats by Balfour. After she rejected his pleas in May 2008 to reconcile, she said Balfour grew agitated.
"He said, 'If you leave me, you will be the last to die. I'll kill your family first," she said, her voice quivering. She said he used precisely the same words at least 25 other times in the months before the triple homicide.
Under cross-examination, Julia Hudson acknowledged she was still having sex with Balfour days before the slayings.
The killings happened the day after her birthday. Prosecutors say Balfour became enraged by balloons he saw at the home that he thought were from her new boyfriend.
Defense Attorney Amy Thompson suggested to jurors during opening statements that the killings may have stemmed from alleged drug dealing by Jason Hudson in the impoverished, crime-ridden South Side neighborhood where they lived. Police, she told jurors, pinned the slayings on Balfour because they felt pressured to make an arrest.
"As soon as that (that a celebrity was linked to the case) became known, they knew coverage would explode," Thompson said. "The police were on the hook. They had to find their man and find him fast."
Prosecutors say Balfour went inside the three-story house around 9 a.m. and used the handgun to kill Hudson's mother, 57-year-old Darnell Donerson, in the living room, and then shot her 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson, twice in the head as he lay in bed.
He allegedly drove off in Jason Hudson's SUV with Julian inside. Authorities say he shot the boy in the head as he lay behind a front seat.
There are no known witnesses to the slayings, and it's unclear what physical evidence exists, including fingerprints or DNA. During her opening statement, Thompson said DNA found on the gun and fingerprints found in the SUV didn't match Balfour's.
If convicted of at least two of the murder counts, the 30-year-old Balfour would face a mandatory life sentence. (A.P.)
Jennifer Hudson took the stand for nearly an hour this afternoon as the first witness in the Chicago trial of the man charged with killing her mother, brother and nephew.
"None of us wanted her to marry him," Hudson said of her sister's marriage to defendant William Balfour, her voice cracking with emotion. "We did not like how he treated her... I tried to keep my distance from William."Crying on the stand at one point, Hudson, who has vowed to attend every day of the trial, paused for a few seconds to compose herself.The award-winning actress and singer choked up when asked about her relationship with her mother, saying, "I slept with my mom until I was 16 years old."Hudson also testified she would sign blank checks and leave them for her mother, so that she could pay the household bills.Hudson, 30, described the last time she saw her mother, a few days before the killings in the family home. She said she remembered it vividly because it was one of the few times that the entire family came over to share a meal. "Thank God I got that," she testified.Hudson's voice cracked with emotion almost every time she spoke about her mother. At one point a deputy brought her a box of tissues and a cup of water.Hudson testified that she knew something was wrong on the day of the killings in 2008 because her mother didn't text her that morning as she usually did by 9 a.m.Despite her powerhouse of a singing voice, Hudson had to be instructed more than once to speak louder on the witness stand, even with a microphone in front of her.Hudson said she learned of the killings from her sister, Julia Hudson, a bus driver, and flew back to Chicago to identify the bodies of her mother and brother at the medical examiner's office. She did the same thing a few days later for her 7-year-old nephew, Julian, for whom she said she had often babysat.On cross examination, the defense asked Hudson about brother Jason Hudson's being shot in the past. The defense's opening statement painted a portrait of Jason, 29, as a drug dealer who "brought danger" to himself and his family.After testifying for about 50 minutes, Hudson, who used a private entrance to gain access to court, sat in the gallery with fiance David Otunga and a bodyguard, in addition to two deputies who guarded the bench on which she sat.The courtroom itself had few members of the public, with most attendees apparently related to the Hudsons or the defendant. At least three benches in gallery were empty.Showing little emotion, Julia Hudson testified later today that she knew Balfour was a drug dealer. "I eventually fell for him, after him being so persistent," she said of their relationshipThey were married Dec. 30, 2006. She didn't invite or tell her mother, brother Jason or sister Jennifer about the wedding.She testified that their relationship took a tumble after she returned from a trip to Japan with Jennifer promoting "Dreamgirls" in February 2007.She said she realized in the year after Japan that Balfour was having relationships with three other women. "It was not a secret, they would call, I would answer," she said.She said her mother and Balfour "didn't get along.""He was jealous," she said. "Wouldn't like anybody to do anything. Everything was a problem."The jealousy apparently extended to her son from a previous relationship. "Julian couldn't kiss me. 'Don't kiss my wife,'" she said Balfour would tell her then 6-year-old son, Julian.Balfour's trial opened this morning with State's Attorney Veryl Gambino recounting the defendant's alleged threat to his estranged wife, Julia Hudson, in the weeks preceding the killings: "If you leave me, I'll kill you. I'll kill your family first and then I'll kill you."Gambino went on to describe Balfour as being enraged that Julia was dating another man and said he had issued several threats against her and her family, despite his being involved with two other women. Balfour allegedly went into a rage Oct. 24, 2008, after seeing balloons sent to Julia Hudson by another man and punched them.After fatally shooting the actress' mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in her living room, prosecutors allege, he shot Hudson's brother, Jason, as he lay in bed, before kidnapping her nephew, Julian. Investigators believe the boy was shot in the head as he lay behind the front seat of an SUV.Balfour has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and his trial is expected to last a month. (ABC)
I remember this like it was yesterday. It's sad that they have to relive these nightmares. My crazy thing is that there never has been any reports of any evidence linking William to the crimes. People are underestimating the jury because Jennifer Hudson is involved but hell, we saw what happened with Casey Anthony last year. William could possibly walk away a free man. The trail is excepted to last for another 4 weeks. I shall follow this story and keep you all update.
I always felt that the sister Julia had something to do with all of this as well. Only because when all of this happened, she was emotionless. Granted, everyone reacts to things different and has their own ways of dealing with it, but come on. This woman just lost her mother, her SON and her brother and she didn't show not one bit of sorry...publicly at-least. We've seen Jennifer cry in interview after interview. But Julia, not so much.
Even in one of the articles above, they described her testimony as emotionless. Maybe I'm just reading too much into it. My conclusion was they Julia was jealous of Jennifer's recent success and wanted some attention for herself. I know that's crazy but hey, that's what I thought at the time. We shall see what happens, I wonder if they will call William to the stand?
Jennifer has vowed to attend every court date until it's all said and done. Stay strong J-Hud.