Testimony ends in case of man accused of killing 3 in Jennifer Hudson’s family

SHARE Testimony ends in case of man accused of killing 3 in Jennifer Hudson’s family
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Relatives and friends of Jennifer Hudson’s family exit for a lunch break during the Hudson family murder trial at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse Tuesday, May 8, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

He allegedly threatened to kill his estranged wife and her family numerous times, and when their bodies were found, he told detectives his spouse’s brother’s drug dealings were tied to the carnage.

But when Jennifer Hudson’s 30-year-old brother-in-law was given the chance to take the stand in his defense Tuesday, he opted not to.

William Balfour’s fate will be in the hands of 12 Cook County jurors Wednesday following closing arguments in the high-profile triple murder trial that included tearful testimony from the Academy Award-winning actress.

“None of us – myself, my mother, or my brother – we did not like how he treated her, and I didn’t like how he treated my nephew,” Hudson testified two weeks ago of Balfour’s dysfunctional relationship with her older sister, Julia.

Balfour is accused of killing the Hudsons’ mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, brother, Jason, 29, and nephew, Julian King, 7, in a jealous rage after learning his wife was growing close to another man.

Donerson and Jason Hudson’s gunshot-riddled bodies were discovered in the family’s Englewood home on Oct. 24, 2008. Julian, who the singer lovingly called Tugga Bear, was found face down in a pool of blood in his uncle’s stolen SUV on the West Side three days later.

Jennifer Hudson, who was shielded from photographers as she was escorted through an underground passage at the Criminal Courthouse, sat through most of the 11-day trial nestled between her fiance, David Otunga, and Julia as prosecutors summoned 83 witnesses.

The defense also rested its case Tuesday after calling only two witnesses – both Chicago Police officers – in an apparent attempt to show that detectives bungled their investigation and were desperate to quickly home in on Balfour given the victims’ relationship to the world famous celebrity.

Prosecutors contended that Balfour had three sets of keys, including one to Jason Hudson’s white SUV, on him when he was arrested at a girlfriend’s West Side apartment the evening his mother-in-law and brother-in-law were found slain in their home in the 7000 block of South Yale.

But Tuesday, Balfour’s attorneys called Detective Thomas Kelly, who admitted he did not list any of the keys in a 17-page field investigation progress report he completed on Nov. 8, 2008.

“It’s not an all encompassing report,” Kelly said. He said that he did mention the keys in a follow-up summary he compiled more than two weeks later.

Assistant public defender Amy Thompson noted that in the first report, Kelly did include an exhaustive list of 28 items from the probe, including a CTA bus card. Prosecutors have pointed to the bus card and the SUV key as crucial pieces of evidence in their circumstantial case.

“Nowhere on that report is there any mention of keys recovered from William Balfour?” Thompson asked Kelly.

“No,” the now retired Kelly responded.

And police didn’t even realize the key actually fit the SUV’s door or ignition until prosecutors requested it be tested on Sept. 22, 2011 – three years after the murders, detective Chester Bach testified for the state earlier Tuesday.

The SUV was seen parked in the early mornings hours of Oct. 25, in the 1300 block of South Kolin, by at least one resident.

Detective Gregory Jacobson, the defense’s second and last witness, said Lynette Williams told him she saw the SUV between 6 and 6:30 a.m. But he testified that he accidentally noted the time in military format, at between 18:00 and 18:30, which would mean 6 to 6:30 p.m.

“Was that a mistake?” assistant state’s attorney James McKay asked Jacobson during cross-examination.

“Yes,” Jacobson said.

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