- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 24, 2012

CHICAGO (AP) — The trial of the man charged with murdering three of Jennifer Hudson’s family members resumed Tuesday with the Oscar-winner shutting her eyes as a police officer described finding her dead family members.

Miss Hudson sat next to her fiance as prosecutors shifted their focus to presenting crime scene evidence in the case against her former brother-in-law, William Balfour.

Miss Hudson hung her head and shut her eyes as Chicago police Sgt. David Dowling described finding her mother’s body sprawled in the living room with gunshot wounds through her back.

Miss Hudson didn’t move as Sgt. Dowling described finding her brother dead in his bed of a gunshot wound to the head. His sheets were pulled up as if he had been sleeping.

Mr. Balfour was estranged from his wife, Miss Hudson’s sister, at the time of the killings. He has pleaded not guilty to murdering Miss Hudson’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.

Miss Hudson, wearing a black top and green skirt, sat in a fourth-row bench well within view of jurors Tuesday. Her sister and Mr. Balfour’s ex-wife, Julia Hudson, sat on her left.

Chicago prosecutors created a buzz Monday by calling the Oscar winner and “American Idol” finalist as their first witness, but on Tuesday they began getting down to the nitty-gritty of their case.

With no surviving witnesses to the murders, prosecutors must offer overwhelming circumstantial evidence that Mr. Balfour committed the grisly crime on Oct. 24, 2008. They are expected to introduce evidence in the next few days that includes cellphone records and security-camera footage that place Mr. Balfour in the area of the killings, because he denies he was there.

Another challenge will be to tie Mr. Balfour to the alleged murder weapon, a silver-and-black .45-calibre handgun that sat Monday on a stack of papers at the prosecution table in plain view of jurors and Jennifer Hudson.

Public defender Amy Thompson told jurors during her opening statement that DNA found on the gun didn’t match Mr. Balfour‘s, thus “absolutely, positively” excluding him as the killer. But prosecutors claim that Mr. Balfour targeted the family in a horrific act of vindictiveness against his ex-wife.

Shortly after Ms. Thompson and prosecutors laid out their cases, Jennifer Hudson took the witness stand in sometimes tearful, gut-wrenching testimony. Miss Hudson, who was in Florida at the time of the shootings, spoke of her family and her reaction to her sister, Julia‘s, telling her in 2006 that she was marrying Mr. Balfour.

“None of us wanted her to marry him,” the 30-year-old Miss Hudson said, her voice cracking as she struggled to hold back tears.

Later, Julia Hudson described how Mr. Balfour repeatedly threatened her and her family after she rejected his pleas in May 2008.

“He said, ‘If you leave me, you will be the last to die. I’ll kill your family first,’” she said, her voice quivering.

Under cross-examination, she acknowledged she was still having sex with Mr. Balfour days before the slayings.

The killings happened the day after her birthday. Prosecutors believe that Mr. Balfour became enraged by balloons he saw at the home that he thought were from her new boyfriend.

Prosecutors said Mr. Balfour went inside the three-story house around 9 a.m. and shot Jennifer and Julia Hudson’s mother, 57-year-old Darnell Donerson, in the living room, then shot their 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson, twice in the head as he lay in bed.

Investigators allege he then drove off in Jason Hudson’s sport utility vehicle with 7-year-old Julian inside, and later shot the boy in the head as he lay behind a front seat.

If convicted of at least two of the murder counts, Mr. Balfour would face a mandatory life sentence.

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