After 11 days of testimony followed by 18 hours of deliberation over three days, jurors on Friday found 31-year-old William Balfour guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 shootings of the mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew of singer Jennifer Hudson.
On the morning of October 24, 2008, Balfour is said to have entered the Hudson family’s three-story Chicago home with a .45-caliber handgun after Julia Hudson, Jennifer’s sister and Balfour’s estranged wife at the time, had left for work. Balfour is believed to have been angry after finding gifts from another man in Julia’s bedroom, which prosecutors say led him to shoot 57-year-old Darnell Donerson, Jennifer and Julia’s mother, in the back; and then shoot their brother, 29-year-old Jason Hudson, twice in the head as he lie in bed.
Balfour is alleged to have then driven off in one of the family vehicles with Julia Hudson’s 7-year-old son Julian in the back seat. Prosecutors say Balfour abandoned the vehicle after shooting his stepson several times in the head as the boy cowered behind the passenger seat. The boy’s body was found in the vehicle three days later.
Balfour, who showed no emotion as the verdict was read, now faces a mandatory life sentence. His attorneys say his stoicism belies his feelings about the verdict.
“He doesn’t emote much. … This is a very, very hard blow for him,” Public Defender Amy Thompson said about her client, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Jennifer and Julia Hudson left the courtroom without comment, but released a statement Friday night expressing sorrow for the Balfour family and praising police for their “dedication and tireless work.”
“It is our prayer that the Lord will forgive Mr. Balfour of these heinous acts and bring his heart into repentance someday,” they said in the statement, which also recognizes that both families “have all suffered terrible loss in this tragedy,” The Huffington Post reports.
The Hudson sisters both delivered days worth of testimony in the trial, exposing longtime suspicion about Balfour and that he’d repeatedly threatened violence if Julia were to ever leave him. Julia testified that Balfour said “I’ll kill you and I’ll kill your family” in the weeks leading to the murders.
The conviction was handed down despite the evidence against Balfour being strictly circumstantial since there were no witnesses to the killings or fingerprints at the scene. The defense attempted to paint the murders as the result of a drug-related dispute stemming from Jason Hudson’s alleged crack cocaine dealing but presented no evidence to support their theory.
Balfour’s state-appointed attorneys still claim he is innocent of the crimes and plan to appeal the verdict.