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William Balfour convicted of killing Jennifer Hudson's relatives

May 11, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • This file photo from February 2007 shows Jennifer Hudson, left, and her mother Darnell Hudson posing for photo after Jennifer won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 79th Annual Academy Awards presentations at the Kodak Theatre in California.
This file photo from February 2007 shows Jennifer Hudson, left, and her… (Gerard Burkhart / AFP/Getty…)

William Balfour was convicted Friday of killing the mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew of pop star and award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson.

The verdict was returned by a Chicago jury of six men and six women who began deliberations Wednesday.

Balfour, Hudson’s former brother-in-law, had pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the 2008 slayings. The charges carry a mandatory penalty of life in prison.

Prosecutors alleged that Balfour, 30, was upset that his estranged wife -- Hudson's sister, Julia --  had begun seeing another man and wanted a divorce.

The defense maintained that Balfour was the victim of a hurried investigation by police seeking to arrest someone in a high-profile case and that the killings were related to Hudson’s brother’s cocaine business, which he operated out of the family home.

Balfour was accused of shooting Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in the living room of the Hudson family home on Chicago's South Side on Oct. 24, 2008, then shooting her brother, Jason Hudson, 29, in the head as he lay in bed.

Balfour then allegedly abducted Julia Hudson's son, Julian King, and shot him in a sport utility vehicle that was found abandoned after a three-day search.

The first witness at the trial was Jennifer Hudson, who came to fame as a contestant on “American Idol” and later won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Dreamgirls.”

In highly charged testimony, Hudson described the last time she saw her relatives alive and spoke disparagingly of Balfour, a childhood friend.

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Michael.muskal@latimes.com

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