Still No Verdict In Hudson Murders After Day 2 Of Deliberations
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Updated 05/10/12 – 6:17 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Jurors have wrapped up a second day of deliberations in the trial of the man accused of killing singer/actress Jennifer Hudson’s family, with no word on a verdict.
Jurors have deliberated a total of about 13 hours over two days and are being sequestered at a local hotel for the second night in a row.
The defendant, William Balfour, is accused of killing Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew in 2008. Coincidentally, Thursday was also his 31st birthday.
The only word from jurors so far was a pair of questions on Wednesday, one asking for transcripts, one asking if a key to the Hudson family home was on a key ring found in Balfour’s pocket. The judge told the jury they had been given all the evidence in the case and, as for their request for transcripts, the judge asked if jurors wanted transcript of a specific part of the trial. They have yet to send a reply.
Deliberations will resume at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Jurors got the case Wednesday afternoon, after prosecutors and defense attorneys wrapped up closing arguments. The defense claimed prosecutors didn’t prove their case, but the state argued there was “overwhelming” evidence of Balfour’s guilt.
Prosecutors claimed Balfour, Hudson’s former brother-in-law, killed her mother, brother and nephew, in a fit of jealous rage, believing his then-estranged wife Julia Hudson — Jennifer’s sister — was seeing another man.
According to the prosecution, Balfour killed 57-year-old Darnell Donerson in the Hudson family’s living room on Oct. 24, 2008, and then killed 29-year-old Jason Hudson as he lay in bed.
Balfor then allegedly kidnapped 7-year-old Julian King – Julia’s son – and shot him in the head in the back seat of Jason Hudson’s SUV, which he stole, then abandoned on the West Side. Julian’s body was found three days after the murders.
During closing arguments, the prosecution went right for the jury’s emotional jugular, first showing photos of the three victims in life, and moving right to their autopsy pictures.
Jennifer Hudson cried and slumped over for most of the state’s closing arguments, comforted by her fiancée, while a stone-faced Balfour looked on.
Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Jennifer Bagby wasted no time during her closing argument, saying “Today is the day to hold him responsible for shooting Julian King, Jason Hudson and Darnell Donerson.”
Bagby spoke firmly, insisting to the jury that Balfour followed through on repeated threats to kill Julia Hudson’s family.
“He went into the house with Jason Hudson’s gun for one reason, and one reason only, to carry out that threat,” she told jurors.
Bagby also reviewed the evidence against Balfour, including cell phone pings that put Balfour near the Hudson house the morning of the murders, and firearms evidence that showed all three victims were killed with Jason Hudson’s gun – the same one several witnesses said Balfour had.
She also pointed to the fact Jason Hudson’s SUV key was found in Balfour’s pocket when he was taken into custody on the day of the murders.
“You don’t just have witness testimony in this case,” she said. “There is physical evidence in this case … keep it clear … just because something wasn’t there doesn’t mean he wasn’t there.”
But Balfour’s defense attorney, Amy Thompson, called much of the prosecution’s case a story full of holes. She insisted those holes created reasonable doubt about Balfour’s guilt.
“The one consistency in this case is that every piece of DNA evidence absolutely excludes William Balfour,” Thompson told the jury. “The one person in Chicago we know didn’t do it is him.”
She raised questions about why the SUV key found in her client’s pocket was not initially inventoried as evidence, or why police waited three years to test it.
Thompson also attempted to discredit prosecution witnesses and hammered on the fact that there is no DNA or fingerprint evidence directly linking Balfour to the murders.
“They weren’t trying to investigate a case,” Thompson said. “They were trying to convict a pre-chosen defendant … and unfortunately for William Balfour, an innocent one.”
The defense has said Balfour had nothing to do with the murders and suggested they were instead linked to Jason Hudson’s own alleged drug dealing.
Balfour has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder. He is also charged with home invasion, aggravated kidnapping, residential burglary, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. If convicted on all counts, he would face a mandatory life sentence.