- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 9, 2012

CHICAGO (AP) - Prosecutors began wrapping up their case Thursday against the man charged with murdering three of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson’s family members, showing jurors photos of the victims’ bloody bodies and denouncing the defendant as the killer.

Hudson, who attended every day of testimony in her former brother-in-law’s murder trial, bent forward, her head on her knee, and sobbed as prosecutor Jennifer Bagby described what she called “the execution” of Hudson’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in October 2008.

The boy’s mother, Hudson’s sister Julia Hudson, fiddled nervously with a piece of string as Bagby described how her ex-husband allegedly shot her son Jason King, whom she called Juice Box, through the head.

William Balfour “left that innocent child to die in his own pool of blood,” covered by an old shower curtain, Bagby told jurors, who looked on intently, with many of them taking notes.

Balfour, dressed in a white dress shirt and striped tie, sat impassively at the defense table, as he had for most of the two-week trial. His attorneys, who took all of 30 minutes to begin and rest their case Tuesday, were slated to give their closing arguments later Wednesday, after which the jury will begin deliberating.

Balfour’s attorneys are expected to note that no witnesses tied him directly to the killings and that prosecutors haven’t met their burden of proving Balfour was the killer. During opening statements, they suggested that Hudson’s brother’s alleged crack-cocaine dealing might have led to the killings. They offered no testimony to support that theory, but could still try to argue that it is a credible alternative explanation for the slayings.

Hudson was the first witness called to testify in the trial, and she told jurors about the last time she saw her three family members alive and spoke endearingly about her nephew, whom she called Tugga Bear.

The defense called just two witnesses _ two detectives who had testified earlier _ in a bid to suggest investigators botched the triple-homicide investigation.

One detective conceded he wrote in a 2008 report that a witness saw the SUV in which Jason’s body was found after 6 p.m. a day after the killings. He told prosecutors the witness saw it after 6 a.m. He said he made a mistake in the original report.

The other detective admitted he hadn’t listed keys found on Balfour in a 2008 report. Another item not initially mentioned was Balfour’s unused transit card, evidence that prosecutors say discredited Balfour’s alibi that he took the subway the day of the slayings.

Balfour pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder. If convicted on all counts, he faces a mandatory life prison term.

Balfour and Julia Hudson were estranged but not yet divorced when the shootings occurred, and prosecution witnesses testified he threatened to kill the Hudson family dozens of times if Julia Hudson refused to reconcile with him.

Prosecutors say Balfour used a .45-caliber handgun to shoot Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in the living room of the Hudson family home Oct. 24, 2008, then shot Hudson’s 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson, in the head as he lay in bed.

Balfour allegedly then abducted Jason and shot him as he lay behind a front seat. His body was found in the abandoned vehicle miles away after a three-day search.


Follow Michael Tarm at https://www.twitter.com/mtarm



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