Jennifer Hudson, courtroom sketch


Jennifer Hudson and her family have their verdict.

Her ex-brother-in-law, William Balfour, was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in the October 2008 shooting deaths of Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson; brother Jason Hudson; and 7-year-old nephew, Julian King.

The singer, sitting with fiancé David Otunga, her sister, Julia Hudson, and other family members, sat silently as the verdict was read into the record.

The six-man, six-woman jury started deliberating Wednesday afternoon—and just a couple of hours ago a verdict didn't appear to be on the horizon.

At 2 p.m., Central Time, the judge received a note from the jury stating that they were split, but still trying to reach a decision.

Not long afterward, however, came the announcement that the verdict would be read at 4:30 p.m., and police began amassing in the hallway outside the courtroom.

Prosecutors called 83 witnesses to make their case, while the defense rested after 30 minutes after calling only two people to the stand—both police officers who had previously testified for the prosecution.

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office had argued that Balfour, Julia's then-estranged husband, killed Donerson, Jason Hudson and Julian in a jealous, vengeful rage, first shooting Donerson and Jason in their home and kidnapping Julian. The child was found dead in Jason's stolen SUV three days later.

Balfour, who spent his 31st birthday yesterday in the maximum-security wing of the adjacent county jail, did not testify.

In addition to the murder charges, he was also found guilty of home invasion, residential burglary, aggravated kidnapping and possession of a stolen vehicle. He is facing life in prison.

Hudson, the prosecution's first witness, testified that she never liked her sister's husband.

"We are very sorry for the tragedy they suffered," Balfour's attorney, public defender Amy Thompson, told reporters afterward, saying that they found the evidence "questionable" and she plans to appeal her client's conviction on June 8.

"It has always been our position that William Balfour is innocent," she said.

Jennifer Hudson, courtroom sketch


Noting Balfour's unemotional response to the verdict, Thompson said, "My client is stoic and doesn't emote...This is very hard for him. He thought of Julian as his son."

—Additional reporting by Claudia Rosenbaum

(Originally published May 11, 2012, at 2:45 p.m. PT)

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