- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 29, 2008

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. | The felon suspected in the Chicago slayings of Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew was arrested on a drug charge in June, but authorities declined at that time to return him to prison on a parole violation, internal parole records show.

Corrections Department spokesman Derek Schnapp said officials who reviewed the cocaine-possession case against William Balfour determined that “the evidence that was presented during that time wouldn’t have necessarily warranted a violation.”

A judge dismissed the charge for lack of probable cause in July, but under the strict rules of the state’s parole program, Balfour could have gone back to prison just for the arrest.

No one has been charged yet in the shooting deaths of Miss Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57; her brother, Jason Hudson, 29; and nephew Julian King, 7.

The older victims were found in the family’s home Friday afternoon. Julian’s body was found in the back of a sport utility vehicle on Chicago’s West Side on Monday; authorities declared his death a homicide on Tuesday.

Around the time the first bodies were found, Balfour’s parole agent had reached him by phone after Balfour missed a meeting with him that day. Balfour told the agent that he was “baby-sitting on the West Side of Chicago,” according to the documents obtained by the Associated Press.

The agent said he thought he heard a child in the background during the call. Balfour was taken into custody later Friday.

Balfour, Julian’s stepfather and the estranged husband of Miss Hudson’s sister, served seven years for attempted murder and vehicular hijacking.

The Illinois Department of Corrections issued the weekend warrant for Balfour for violating terms of his parole by possessing a weapon and failing to attend anger-management counseling and a substance-abuse program, according to his parole history report.

The records indicate that a parole supervisor declined to issue a warrant to revoke Balfour’s parole after Chicago police had arrested him June 19 for possession of cocaine.

“Per supervisor … no warrant,” the report reads. “Agent to monitor offender, impose sanctions.”

Criminal charges can send parolees back to prison and keep them there, even if the counts are ultimately dropped. A board that reviews such cases after parolees are sent back to prison relies on a preponderance of the evidence, a lower standard than in court. The board considers the violence of the original crime, the parole agent’s recommendation, the arrest report, the parolee’s adjustment and his attitude during a follow-up interview in prison, among other things.

In Balfour’s case, a violation could have sent him back behind bars for a period as long as the remainder of his parole - until May 2009 - minus a day off for each day of good behavior. That would have meant a release date in mid-December at the earliest.

The parole history report on Balfour also showed that a woman at Balfour’s home refused to open the door during an agent’s visit on Aug. 27. The woman told the agent during the 8:30 a.m. visit that Balfour was at work, but Balfour’s boss told the agent he wasn’t expected until noon.

“Agent heard other people inside the host site and suspected maybe suspicious activities going on,” the report said. “Agent will be following up for a possible warrant on parolee.”

There’s no warrant mentioned in following days on the report, which does note, however, that Balfour passed a drug test.

Mr. Schnapp said the evidence again wasn’t sufficient to warrant revoking parole.

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