The trial of William Balfour — the man accused of killing the mother, brother and nephew of singer and Academy Award-nominated actress Jennifer Hudson — got underway today. And it began with testimony from the star herself, who reportedly grew emotional as she recollected the circumstances surrounding the 2008 killings of her family members.
The Associated Press reports that Hudson testified for about 30 minutes in a Chicago courthouse, where Balfour — Hudson’s estranged brother-in-law — faces three counts of first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
According to tweets from Chicago Tribune reporter Stacy St. Clair, who is covering the trial, Hudson began weeping as she talked about the last time she saw her relatives — mother Darnell Donerson, 57; brother Jason Hudson, 29; and nephew Julian King, 7. She said that her mother texted her every morning and that she grew worried when she did not hear from Donerson on Oct. 24, 2008, the day the shootings occurred.
Tweets St. Clair:
Jennifer Hudson texted her mom at 10 a.m the morning of the murders, but she did not get a response. #JenniferHudsontrial— Stacy St. Clair (@StacyStClair) April 23, 2012
Hours later, a hysterical Julia called to report what happened. "I remember it like it was yesterday," Jennifer tells the jury.— Stacy St. Clair (@StacyStClair) April 23, 2012
Hudson also reportedly grew emotional while describing sister Julia Hudson’s relationship with Balfour.
“None of us wanted her to marry him,” she testified while trying to suppress sobs, according to the AP. “We did not like how he treated her.”
Balfour is accused of shooting and killing Donerson and Jason Hudson inside Julia Hudson’s home after seeing some balloons given to his estranged wife by a possible new boyfriend. According to prosecutors, Balfour then left the scene in Jason Hudson’s SUV, with Julian King, Julia Hudson’s son, in the car; he allegedly later shot the boy in the head.
Defense attorneys have noted that the evidence in the case is circumstantial; there were no witnesses to the killings and there is minimal physical evidence tying Balfour to the crimes. But prosecutors say Balfour had threatened to kill Julia Hudson’s family on previous occasions and that on that day in 2008, he finally acted on it.