What was expected to be one of the most dramatic moments in the trial of the man accused of killing Oscar-winning singer Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew occurred in the first hours when Hudson took the stand and tearfully recounted her family’s disapproval of William Balfour.
According to the Chicago Tribune Hudson choked back tears on Monday (April 23) morning as she told jurors that no one in her family wanted Balfour to marry her sister. “We didn’t like the way he treated her, and I didn’t like the way he treated my nephew,” she said of Balfour, who has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in the October 24, 2008 slayings of Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson; brother Jason Hudson; and her 7-year-old nephew, Julian King.
Dressed in all black with her hair pulled back into a ponytail, Hudson spoke at a whisper at times and was asked by the judge to speak louder when she became inaudible.
Hudson didn’t offer much insight into the murders themselves, but the Tribune reported that her emotional testimony painted a “heartbreaking picture of a close-knit family torn apart by a violent crime.” The singer had to stop to compose herself at times on the stand as she spoke about her beloved mother and nephew. She said she spoke to or texted Donerson every day and when she received a call from her distraught sister about the murders she flew back immediately to Chicago to identify the bodies of her mother and brother at the morgue.
“We were trying everything, anything we could do to get him back,” she said of the $100,000 reward offered for the safe return of King. “It was always me and my Tugga Bear,” she said, using the family’s pet name for King as she fought to retain her composure. The child was found two days after the murders in an abandoned vehicle that prosecutors claim Balfour stole from the scene of the crime.
Hudson is expected to attend every day of the trial and was accompanied on the first day by her fiancé, professional wrestler David Otunga. She testified for 30 minutes and then joined Otunga in the fourth row of the courtroom.
In opening statements , prosecutors said that Balfour, 30, undertook the murders because he could not stand the idea of his estranged wife, Julia Hudson, dating other men. “What could have led to these horrible events that took place? Resentment, anger, jealousy,” said Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Veryl Gambino said. “He doesn’t want Julia to have anyone but him.”
Details emerged earlier this year about the incidents leading up to the murders , including allegations that Balfour had previously threatened Julia because he thought she was having an affair with a co-worker.