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Jury being seated in Hudson family murder trial

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CHICAGO (AP) — The final four jurors were to be selected Tuesday for the trial of the man accused of killing three members of actress-singer Jennifer Hudson's family.

Fourteen people were selected Monday to be among the 12 jurors and six alternates after nine hours of interviewing potential jurors one by one. Cook County Circuit Judge Charles Burns was looking to weed out anyone who might be swayed by the 30-year-old Miss Hudson's celebrity.

William Balfour, 30, is charged with murdering Miss Hudson's mother, brother and nephew in 2008 and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of murdering at least two of the victims.

Miss Hudson's name came up frequently during Monday's questioning of potential jurors, though most insisted that despite what they knew about her or heard in the media about the case, they could consider only the evidence presented at the trial. Testimony begins April 23.

One woman in her 30s, a saleswoman at Xerox, was dismissed Monday after she told those assembled, including Mr. Balfour, that she is a fan of Miss Hudson's and would be unable to give the defendant a fair trial.

Only a few people said they knew little to nothing about Miss Hudson. One woman in her 30s picked for the jury said she had heard of Miss Hudson but had no idea what she looked like.

Among those selected to serve on the panel were several people who said they had relatives who were murdered and a man who said that 25 years ago an attacker grabbed his sister's purse at a bus stop and slashed her throat, badly injuring her.

Also chosen were a Mexican-American truck driver who said he sometimes has trouble speaking English; an unemployed women who lives three blocks from the courthouse; and a customer representative at a chocolate company who, when asked about her hobbies, responded, "I like to sleep; then I like to eat; then I sleep again."

Among those dismissed were a man whose neighbors were police and FBI agents, a Chicago schoolteacher who was once a character witness for a student charged with murder, and an unemployed widow whose nephew recently killed his pregnant wife.

"It's way too close to home," she said when asked if she could hear the Balfour trial dispassionately. "It's just that there's a child involved, and I can't get past that."

Miss Hudson, who was not in Chicago at the time her relatives were killed, told investigators she was in touch with her mother almost every day and became concerned when she couldn't reach her by late morning on Oct. 24, 2008.

Hours later, the bodies of her mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, and brother, Jason Hudson, 29, were found shot to death in the family home. The body of her 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, was found days later in an SUV several miles away.

Mr. Balfour's lawyers have said the evidence is circumstantial, but prosecutors say that the evidence includes gun residue found on his car's steering wheel and that testimony will show he lied about his whereabouts the day of the killings.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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