Updated 04/26/12 – 6:17 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — A family friend of singer Jennifer Hudson testified Thursday that accused Hudson family killer William Balfour repeatedly threatened to kill the Hudsons while attending a child’s birthday party a couple months before the murders.
Robbin Myers, whose late wife worked with Jennifer’s sister, Julia, said he and his wife were having a birthday party for their youngest son in August 2008. Julia, her son Julian King, and Balfour – her estranged husband – all came to the party. It was the first time Myers had met Balfour.
When he first saw Balfour, Myers said he thought he saw a handgun in Balfour’s waistband. Myers said he did not want Balfour in his house, so he took him to the front porch and offered him a beer and a blunt cigarette, but Balfour declined.
As the two talked, Balfour said he wished Julia was nicer, like Myers’ wife, and said he believed Julia was cheating on him.
Myers said Balfour told him, “I think my wife is cheating on me with somebody she work with. … If I find out that she cheating on me I’m f***ing her and him up.
During their conversation, Balfour lifted his shirt and showed off the handle of the gun in his waistband, according to Myers.
Prosecutors have said Balfour stole a .45-caliber Sig Sauer handgun from Jason Hudson and used that weapon to kill the family. Prosecutors showed that handgun to Myers in court on Thursday, and he confirmed it was the gun Balfour showed to him at the party.
On cross examination, Myers admitted that he didn’t notify police about Balfour’s alleged threats and that he didn’t kick Balfour out of his house, even though he brought a gun to a child’s birthday party. Instead he offered the him a beer and marijuana to get him to go outside.
Prosecutors have said Balfour killed Julia’s mother, Darnell Donerson; her brother, Jason Hudson; and her 7-year-old son, Julian King. They said Balfour went into a jealous rage on Oct. 24, 2008, believing Julia was seeing another man.
Myers testified, at his son’s birthday party, Balfour went on a tirade about Julia and her family and threatened them at least 10 times as he and Balfour talked on the porch.
According to Myers, Balfour called Jennifer Hudson a “fat b****h,” who didn’t want him near her family, and that she “thinks she is better than everybody else.”
Myers said Balfour also called the Jason Hudson a “fat a**” and said Jason had accused him of stealing Jason’s handgun from the Hudson family home by sneaking through Jason’s bedroom window. But Myers said Balfour claimed he wouldn’t need to go through Jason’s window to get at the gun, which Jason kept under his bed. Instead, Balfour allegedly said he had a key to the home and could just sneak in.
Myers said, about a month after the party, he saw Balfour again, this time while Myers was picking up his wife at work. He testified he was parked in the lot of the school bus company where his wife and Julia worked, and he saw Balfour parked in his own car.
According to Myers, Balfour got out of the car and started pacing around, appearing agitated. That’s when he spotted a gun in Balfour’s waistband — the same gun he had seen at the birthday party.
When asked how he could be certain the gun that Balfour showed him was a Sig Sauer .45 handgun, Myers said he had been trained in security work and had used the same type of gun to qualify at a shooting range.
Another witness on Thursday also testified about Balfour’s alleged threats against the Balfour family.
Debra Hampton, who lived down the street from the Hudsons, testified she saw Julia and Balfour arguing outside Julia’s house a few days before the murders. Balfour allegedly called Julia “a fat b***h” and said, “I’m going to f*** you and your family up.”
Balfour’s alleged threats are a key part of the case against Balfour. Several witnesses, including Julia, have testified Balfour repeatedly threatened her and the family after the two separated.
JURY HEARS FROM WOMAN WHO LOCATED SUV WITH JULIAN’S BODY
Jurors also heard from the woman who spotted Jason Hudson’s stolen SUV after the murders and reported the vehicle to police, who found Julian King’s body inside. Prosecutors have said Julian was killed at about the same time as Jason Hudson and Darnell Donerson, but Balfour placed his body in Jason’s SUV and dumped the vehicle on the West Side.
Lynette Williams said she saw the white Chevy Suburban parked outside her home on the West Side on the morning after the murders. The night before, she had gone to see “The Secret Life of Bees,” a film starring Jennifer Hudson.
After seeing the SUV parked on her block, Williams said she spent the rest of that day on a boat, then saw the vehicle still parked outside her home the next day when she went to church. She and her husband saw it was still parked there three days after the murder and her husband told her to watch the news for news reports about the Hudson family murders, because the news had mentioned police were looking for a missing SUV.
When both Williams and her husband confirmed the SUV parked outside their house had the license plate number reported on the news, they called 911.
WITNESSES DISCUSS BALFOUR’S DRUG DEALING
Earlier in the day, two other witnesses testified that Balfour sold drugs in the neighborhood around the Hudson home.
James Payton, who grew up in Englewood and has known both the Hudsons and Balfour for 20 years, said he stopped by the Hudson home almost every day.
In the month of the murders, Payton saw Balfour outside an apartment building across the street from the Hudson’s house 30 to 40 times. He said, about a week before the murders, he saw Balfour selling drugs outside the building.
However, Payton also testified that Jason Hudson occasionally sold drugs, which might bolster the defense’s claim that the Hudsons were killed over Jason’s drug dealings, and that Balfour had nothing to do with the killings.
Payton, who said he used to date Jennifer Hudson, is at least the second witness to testify Jason Hudson sold drugs. Julia Hudson also admitted her brother was a drug dealer.
Hampton also testified about Balfour being a drug dealer. She said she regularly bought crack cocaine from Balfour — buying $20 worth of it once or twice a week.
MORE TESTIMONY ABOUT BALFOUR’S JEALOUSY
Hampton also testified that she called Balfour to buy drugs in August 2008, and he said she should meet him in the Balfour’s back yard. When she got there, she spotted him crouching under a window. When the keys she was carrying made a noise, Balfour turned to her and motioned her to be quiet, then told her he was spying on Julia Hudson and her new boyfriend.
Hampton, who knew the Hudson family, testified she told Balfour “It ain’t that serious.”
Julia Hudson has testified Balfour was so jealous, he didn’t even like it when her own son would kiss her. Prosecutors have said that jealousy sparked the killings.
Hampton testified, sometime after seeing Balfour spying on Julia, she ran into him again at a local convenience store, where he was talking about Jason Hudson, who had accused him of stealing his handgun.
According to Hampton, Balfour told her “if he had stole his gun, he would have used it on [Jason’s] fat a**.”
WITNESS TELLS OF BALFOUR’S INFIDELITY
Thursday morning, jurors also heard about Balfour’s infidelity from his girlfriend, Diana Grant, who said she met Balfour in 2007 through mutual friends.
She began dating him a short time later, but found out within a couple months that Balfour was married to Julia Hudson. Still, the two continued a sexual relationship. She told the jury Balfour slept in her apartment the night before the murders, although the two did not have sex.
Grant said Balfour left her home around 6 a.m., while it was still dark. Prosecutors have said Balfour killed Julia’s mother, brother and son three hours later, in an act of spite. They have said Julia rejected his attempts to reconcile after they separated, and believed she was seeing another man.
Grant said she called and texted Balfour the afternoon of the murders. When she finally got him on the phone around 4 p.m., he said he’d call her back, but never did.
Prosecutors have said Balfour spent the few hours after the murders trying to dispose of evidence of the killings, and had turned off his phone.
On Wednesday, Balfour himself appeared to tear up when the photos of Julian’s body were shown in court. He put his head down and one of his attorneys handed him a tissue, which he used to dab his eyes as the photos were displayed on a large screen in the courtroom.