- Associated Press - Monday, April 23, 2012

CHICAGO (AP) - A prosecutor says the man charged with murdering Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew began threatening the family shortly after he left the family home in 2008.

The prosecutor said during opening statements in William Balfour’s murder trial Monday that he was not making idle threats against his estranged wife’s family members.

Hudson was in the courthouse but a court spokesman says she would not be present for opening statements.

Balfour has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in the October 2008 slayings.

Prosecutors say he became enraged that Hudson’s sister, his estranged wife, had begun dating someone else.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

The trial began Monday for the man accused of killing Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew four years ago, and although the Oscar-winning actress and singer was in the building, she wouldn’t be present for opening statements, an official said.

Hudson’s fiancé, David Otunga, sat in the fourth row of the Cook County courtroom gallery and stared as defendant William Balfour walked in wearing a white dress shirt and tie.

Courtroom spokesman Terry Sullivan said Hudson was in the building, but would not be in the courtroom during opening statements. He didn’t elaborate.

The 30-year-old actress and singer is among 300 potential witnesses who could be called to testify.

Balfour is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the 2008 slayings.

Prosecutors say a gift of balloons sent Hudson’s then brother-in-law into such a jealous rage on Oct. 24, 2008, that he shot dead her mother, brother and nephew in a horrific act of vindictiveness in the home where the Hollywood star grew up.

Balfour believed the balloons he saw at the Hudson home came from Julia Hudson’s new boyfriend; driving away for her job as a school bus driver, she glimpsed Balfour in her mirror still lingering outside, prosecutors have said.

They say Balfour went back inside the three-story house around 9 a.m. and used a .45-caliber handgun to kill Hudson’s mother, 57-year-old Darnell Donerson, in the living room, and then shot her 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson, twice in the head as he lay in bed.

He allegedly drove off in Jason Hudson’s SUV with Julia Hudson’s son, Julian King, inside. Authorities say he shot the boy nicknamed Juice Box in the head as he lay behind a front seat. His body was found in the abandoned vehicle miles away after a three-day search.

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