William Balfour: Julia Hudson’s now ex-husband is accused of gunning down three members of Hudson’s family in a jealous rage after learning his estranged wife started seeing another man, according to Cook County prosecutors. Balfour, now 30, was on parole for carjacking and attempted murder when he was arrested for the 2008 triple slayings.
Jennifer Hudson: The Academy-Award winning actress, singer and Weight Watchers spokeswoman first gained fame as a contestant on “American Idol,” the popular show on which she made a guest appearance two weeks ago with Ne-Yo to perform their song “Think Like A Man.” Following Whitney Houston’s death, Jennifer Hudson sang an emotional rendition of the singer’s cover of Dolly Parton’s song, “I Will Always Love You,” at the Grammy Awards.
Julia Hudson: Older sister of Jennifer Hudson and mother to victim Julian King, the child she had with hip-hop artist Gregory King. Julia Hudson was still legally married to William Balfour at the time of the murders. She officially divorced him in December while he awaited trial at Cook County Jail. Following the murder, Julia Hudson wrote on her MySpace page: “Because I chose to do what was natural to me and love someone, it cost me my beautiful, loving. supporting mother Darnell, my true baby brother Jason, I love U big baby, and last but never not least my only son Julian, my innocent baby one that was sheltered from all the evil in the world because we loved him so much.”
Darnell Donerson: Mother to Jennifer, Julia Hudson and Jason Hudson. Donerson, 57, was known by family membersas “Doll” and served as a church secretary at Pleasant Gift Missionary Baptist Church. She has been credited for giving Jennifer Hudson the confidence to try out for “American Idol.” After Jennifer Hudson was awarded her Oscar, Donerson modestly brushed off her role in helping her daughter achieve fame: “Isn’t that what parents should do? To encourage their children? To help them follow dreams? That’s all I did,” Donerson told the Sun-Times.
Jason Hudson: Brother of Jennifer and Julia Hudson. Jason, 29, described by friends as “cool as hell,” worked as a mechanic and liked to play dominoes and video games. He was known for his penchant for barbecues – even in the wintertime – and for joking that he was prettier than his two sisters. He had some trouble with the law – a court filing shows he faced felony drug charges in 2002 – but he was found not guilty in at least one case.
Julian King: Seven-year-old son of Julia Hudson. The second grader at Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy, who loved to read, was affectionately known as “Juicebox” and “Tugga Bear.” Since his death, the surviving Hudson sisters have created a charity toy drive in his name.
JudgeCharles P. Burns: Assigned to the Criminal Courts building since 2007, Burns began his legal career as a prosecutor and was elected judge in 1998. Even-tempered and a stickler for the rules, Burns has set strict guidelines for everyone participating in the trial.
Assistant State’s Attorney James McKay: Known for his booming presence in the courtroom, he’s tried a string of high-profile police murders, recently securing a conviction and life sentence for the man who killed Chicago Ofcr. Nathaniel Taylor. A prosecutor since 1985, he’ll be joined by veteran prosecutors Veryl Gambino and Jennifer Bagby.
Assistant Public Defender Amy E. Thompson: An attorney since 1991, Thompson has kept her strategy for Balfour’s defense close. She was part of the defense team for serial rapist and killer Paul Runge, who was sentenced to death in 2006. Assistant public defenders Cynthia Brown, Scott Kozicki and Edward Koziboski will join her at the defense table.