May 11, 2012 / 9:09 PM / 7 years ago

Jury convicts man of murdering Jennifer Hudson's family

Singer Jennifer Hudson (R) and her fiance David Otunga are seen in this courtroom sketch during the start of the murder trial of William Balfour, who is accused of killing three members of Hudson's family, at the Cook County criminal courthouse in Chicago, April 23, 2012. REUTERS/Tom Gianni

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A jury on Friday found the brother-in-law of Grammy and Oscar winning actress Jennifer Hudson guilty of killing three members of her family in 2008.

William Balfour, 31, was found guilty of shooting dead Hudson’s mother Darnell Donerson, 57, her brother Jason Hudson, 29, and her nephew Julian King, 7. He faces life in prison.

During 11 days of testimony in Cook County Criminal Court, prosecution witnesses said Balfour repeatedly threatened to kill his estranged wife, Hudson’s sister Julia, and her family if she went out with another man, though he was seeing three different women at the time.

Julia Hudson testified she wanted a divorce and blamed him when her wages as a bus driver were garnished. After the two talked by cell phone on the morning of October 24, 2008, prosecutors alleged Balfour shot his way into the Hudson family home with a gun he had stolen from victim Jason Hudson and killed the victims. Julia Hudson’s son, Julian, was taken outside and shot in Jason Hudson’s sports utility vehicle, prosecutors charged.

Balfour tried to cover his tracks, changing his clothes, enlisting friends to create an alibi, and getting rid of the gun and abandoning Jason Hudson’s stolen sports utility vehicle with Julian dead inside, prosecutors said. After an intensive search, Julian’s body was discovered in the vehicle three days later.

Prosecutors relied on circumstantial evidence since there was no DNA or fingerprints directly linking Balfour to the slayings. No one left alive witnessed the killings, and the bodies were not discovered for hours.

Jennifer Hudson, who won a Grammy for her debut album and an Academy Award for her role in the movie “Dreamgirls,” flew home to identify the bodies and was the first to testify in the trial. She said she had known Balfour since grade school and had never liked him.

Reporting By Andrew Stern; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune

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