- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 9, 2012

CHICAGO (AP) - Jurors deliberated late into the night Wednesday without reaching a verdict after sitting through sometimes heated and embittered closing arguments at the Chicago trial of the man accused of slaying Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.

The actress and singer sobbed and dabbed her eyes when prosecutors displayed photos of the bullet-riddled bodies of her three close relatives during closing arguments earlier in the day.

Prosecutors contend Hudson’s former brother-in-law, William Balfour, killed the family members in October 2008 in an act of vengeance against Hudson’s sister, Julia Hudson, to whom he was married but estranged at the time.

The judge at the high-profile trial told jurors they would be sequestered _ staying at a nearby hotel overnights until they reached a verdict. They deliberated for more than four hours Wednesday and were scheduled to return to the courthouse to continue deliberations Thursday morning.

With no surviving witnesses to present, prosecutors spent two weeks laying out a largely circumstantial case against Balfour, a 30-year-old one-time gang member.

Public defender Amy Thompson seized on that during her closing argument, saying prosecutors had failed to meet their burden of proving Balfour was the killer.

“They know as they sit there that they have failed to prove the case,” Thompson said, almost at a shout. “I am offended,” she went on, “that they would ask you to throw your logic away.”

In a scathing final word to jurors before they began deliberations, lead prosecutor James McKay said for jurors to believe Balfour is innocent they would have to believe he was just unlucky enough to have someone else kill the Hudsons after he himself had threatened to murder them at least 25 times, as witnesses had testified.

“I want to introduce you to William Balfour, the MegaMillions winner of bad luck,” he said. “But Mr. Innocent here did everything a guilty man would do,” including lying about his whereabouts and getting rid of the clothes he wore on the day of the triple murders.

McKay at times gritted his teeth, snarled and pointed at Balfour, who has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder.

At one point, he walked up to look directly at Balfour from a few feet away. His voice soaring, McKay boomed, “Calling the defendant a dog is an insult to dogs!” The comment prompted a buzz among spectators and objections from the defense.

Earlier in the day, prosecutor Jennifer Bagby displayed photographs of the victims smiling for a camera. A second later, she flashed photos of their blooded, bullet-ridden bodies.

“This defendant is the one that made (them) into these images,” Bagby said, glancing back at the photos.

Hudson bent forward, her head on her knee, crying. Her finance, pro wrestler David Otunga, put his arm around the singer and actress, rubbing her neck.

Thompson, for her part, argued that DNA recovered from the alleged murder weapon, a .45-calibre handgun, and on the steering wheel of Balfour’s car did not match her client’s.

Story Continues →