After two weeks of expert witnesses, grisly crime-scene photos and tearful testimony by Jennifer Hudson, jurors found her ex-brother in law William Balfour GUILTY of murdering the entertainers mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.
The jury of six women and six men (5 white, 5 black, 2 asian) decided his fate after being sequestered at a local hotel Thursday night.
Jurors asked to see two pieces of video during their third day of deliberations Friday.
The jury asked to see videos shown in court of Balfour’s police interrogation and of Balfour’s car at Robeson High School where it was dropped off.
The jury was curious about the timeline of Balfour’s whereabouts on the morning of the 2008 murders and whether he had enough time to drop Jason Hudson’s SUV on Chicago’s West Side.
The judge granted both requests.
Experts say it’s not surprising the jury took so long to reach a verdict.
“If you’re going to convict somebody, you want to make sure, even if it seems like the evidence is super strong, that you’ve gone through, piece by piece, given them their due, before you send them to jail,” said jury consultant William Healy.
There is much to consider.
Jurors had to weigh the prosecution’s theory that Balfour acted in a jealous rage on threats to kill Julia Hudson and her family against the defense theory that Jason Hudson’s drug business made the Englewood home a target for his enemies.
Healy said the rule of thumb is typically one day of deliberations for each week of a trial. Testimony in Balfour’s trial lasted a little more than two weeks.
The racially diverse panel had to decide whether William Balfour was an innocent victim of a rushed investigation or if was a jealous, jilted husband determined to destroy the woman who refused his attempts at reconciliation.
The prosecution presented 83 witnesses during their 11-day case proves Hudson’s former brother-in-law killed the star’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.
They also cited Balfour’s alleged threats to kill the family if his then-wife didn’t reconcile with him.
Prosecutors say Balfour used a .45-caliber handgun to shoot Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in the living room of the Hudson family home Oct. 24, 2008, then shot Hudson’s 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson, in the head as he lay in bed.
Balfour allegedly then abducted Hudson’s nephew Jason King and shot him as he lay behind a front seat. His body was found in the abandoned vehicle miles away after a three-day search.
The defense, which began and then closed their case Tuesday after only 30 minutes, continued to say no witnesses tied Balfour directly to the killings and that prosecutors didn’t meet their burden to prove the allegations.
The defense theorized in their opening that Hudson’s brother’s alleged crack-cocaine dealing might have led to the killings. They offered no testimony to support that theory but argued that it is a credible alternative explanation for the slayings.
Prosecutors say that’s BS…if this was a drug hit, the killer would have shot everyone in the house and not kidnapped the nephew. “This was personal,” says Prosecutors.
Balfour pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder. He faces a mandatory life prison term.