Calling his soul “as barren as dark space,” a Chicago judge sentenced William Balfour to three life sentences without the possibility of parole in the 2008 murders of Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew.
According to the Chicago Tribune Judge Charles Burns added 120 years onto the three consecutive life sentences for the additional felonies of home invasion and aggravated kidnapping. The lengthy sentence, for what Burns called crimes that “send a chill through all of us,” came as he said he was sickened by Balfour’s claims that he loved Julian King, Hudson’s 7-year-old nephew, who was among the murder victims.
Balfour, who looked on without expression as Burns read the sentence, made a brief statement to the victims’ families before learning his fate. “My condolences go out to the family,” said Balfour, as Jennifer Hudson and other members of her family looked on. “My deepest sympathies go to Julian King. I loved him. I still love him.”
Estranged from Hudson’s sister, Julia, at the time of the murders, Balfour was allegedly jealous of a new relationship his ex started following their break-up; King was Julia’s son.
“The fact that you can stand in court and tell us you love that child is an insult to all of us,” Burns said. “There’s no doubt in my mind he looked up to you as you were putting bullets into his head,” Burns added, his voice shaking. “I just hope his terror was short-lived.”
A jury convicted Balfour in May of fatally shooting Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, and brother Jason Hudson, 29, in the family’s South Side Chicago house and then kidnapping and killing King.
A female member of Balfour’s family reportedly burst into tears and ran out of the courtroom after Balfour spoke. Earlier in the trial, Burns denied Balfour’s motion for a new trial after defense lawyers argued that Jennifer Hudson should not have been allowed to testify because she had no direct knowledge of the crimes and that her celebrity may have unfairly influenced the jury.
In addition to tearful testimony from Julian’s father, Gregory King, the sentencing hearing also included victims from Balfour’s past crimes. Among them: a man who caught Balfour stealing his SUV in November 1988 and held on for life as Balfour led police on a chase that reached 100 m.p.h. on a Chicago expressway, leading to a guilty plea on an attempted murder charge that sent him to prison for nearly a decade. Balfour was still on parole when the Hudson murders took place in October 2008.