Jury begins deliberations in Jennifer Hudson family killings

Wed May 9, 2012 7:48pm EDT
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By Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Not a single fingerprint or scrap of DNA was found to prove who murdered three family members of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson in 2008, but prosecutors said there was overwhelming circumstantial evidence to convict her jealous brother-in-law as the jury began deliberations on Wednesday.

Hudson, her head bowed at times when graphic photographs were shown to the jury, sat with family members in the Chicago courtroom.

The defense attorney for accused killer William Balfour poked holes in the prosecution's mostly circumstantial case in her final statement and accused the police of concocting evidence to convict her client.

"They were trying to convict a pre-chosen defendant," defense attorney Amy Thompson told the Cook County Criminal Court jury in her closing statement following two weeks of testimony.

Balfour, 30, a sometime drug dealer married to Hudson's sister Julia, is on trial for shooting to death Hudson's mother Darnell Donerson, 57, her brother Jason Hudson, 29, and her nephew Julian King, 7.

Balfour's lawyer said police fixated on Balfour, while the real killer was an unknown enemy of Hudson's drug-dealing brother, Jason Hudson, whose body was found in his bed, shot twice in the head while he slept.

Donerson, armed with a broom, was shot three times, and Julian was killed in the back seat of Jason Hudson's sports utility vehicle. His body was not discovered until three days later in the vehicle, which had been abandoned.

Jennifer Hudson had testified on the first day of the trial that she had never liked Balfour, and begged her sister not to marry him.   Continued...