John Shearer/Getty Images
John Shearer/Getty Images
The fate of Jennifer Hudson's ex-brother-in-law is now in a jury's hands.
In her closing argument today, Cook County Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Bagby insisted there was a "tsunami of evidence" tying William Balfour to the murders of Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, brother Jason Hudson and 7-year-old nephew Julian King.
Hudson was in the Chicago courtroom, along with her fiancé, David Otunga, and sister Julia Hudson (Julian's mother), who was married to Balfour at the time of the killings in October 2008. Both sisters cried at times as Bagby summed up her case and showed photos of the victims' bodies.
"Today is the time to hold [Balfour] responsible for killing, murdering and executing," Bagby told the jury. "He told [Julia] over and over again that, 'I will kill you—I will kill your family first and then I will kill you.'"
"He put a bullet through the door," the prosecutor continued, "Mrs. Donerson with a broom in her hand in an effort to defend herself. He fired that gun at her over and over again....He leaves her there to die. He didn't stop there. He went into Jason's room, who was sound asleep, and Balfour put his gun up against Jason's head and pulled the trigger. Not once, but twice, executing him in the bed. Then he came across Julian King."
Balfour shot Julian "not once, but twice, leaving him to die in a pool of his own blood."
Julian's body was found in Jason's SUV three days after Julia discovered her mother's and brother's bodies in their house.
Though the defense has argued that the prosecution's case is entirely circumstantial, Bagby said there is direct physical evidence tying Balfour to the killings: Jason's SUV keys were found in his possession, there was gun residue on the car's steering wheel and the murder weapon was said to be in Balfour's possession just days beforehand.
"He is the one who gunned down Darnell Donerson, executed Jason in is bed and took Julian King," Bagby concluded. "He went in that house for one reason and that was to carry out his threats. Today it is time to hold him responsible."
In her closing argument, public defender Amy Thompson noted that the police report saying Jason's keys were in Balfour's possession was written up a month after the killing, when the suspect had been in custody for weeks. She also questioned why investigators didn't test for DNA on the keys.
Thompson also noted that two people's DNA—and not her client's—were found on the murder weapon and questioned how that could be possible if only Balfour had been in possession of the gun for two months before the killings.
"Every piece of DNA evidence excludes William Balfour," Thompson contended, adding that no traces of blood were found on Balfour's clothes or possessions. "There's one person who we know who didn't do it—that's William Balfour."
The police "had their suspect," Thompson argued. "They weren't trying to investigate a case. They were trying to convict a preselected defendant and, unfortunately [for them], William Balfour is an innocent man."
"He's not on trial for having a gun," she added." He's on trial for murder, and that requires proof." And, Thompson asked, why did Julia Hudson keep meeting up with her then-husband "for sex" if she was so afraid of him?
"They know as they sit there that they have failed to prove the case," Thompson said of the prosecution. "I am offended that they would ask you to throw your logic away.
"My client is an innocent man charged with killing three people," she concluded. "[Investigators] had an obligation to find the person who did this—not just for my client but for the Hudson family...You tell the state attorney to find the person who did this and you let William Balfour go free, as he deserves to be."
Cook County State Attorney Jim McKay handled the prosecution's rebuttal argument, kicking off by telling the court that "calling the defendant a dog is an insult to dogs."
"He lies to everybody," McKay said of the defendant. "Now it's the defense of desperation. Now its a police frame-up."
There was a lack of physical evidence, he said, because Balfour had four hours to wipe it away. "Mr. Innocence over here did everything a guilty man would do," McKay scoffed. "He's changing costumes more than a lead actor in a Broadway show. Why would Mr. Innocent do that?"
After approximately four hours of arguments, the case was handed over to the jury shortly before 5 p.m. Central time.
UPDATE: The jury ended its first day of deliberations at around 9:45 p.m. without reaching a verdict. The judge ordered them sequestered at a Chicago hotel for the night, saying, "I hope you understand, I have to cut off contact with the outside world."