NATION

William Balfour guilty of killing Jennifer Hudson's relatives

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CHICAGO (AP) - A Chicago jury on Friday convicted Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson's former brother-in-law of murdering her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in what prosecutors' described as an act of vengeance by a jilted husband.

Hudson, who expressed her undisguised disdain for William Balfour when she took the witness stand and who endured weeks of excruciating testimony about the October 2008 killings, was visibly overcome with emotion as the verdict was read.

Hudson's eyes filled with tears and she shook her head and bit her lip. Balfour, 31, faces a mandatory life prison sentence. Jurors deliberated for three days before reaching their verdict against Balfour, a former gang member who was the estranged husband of Hudson's sister, Julia Hudson, at the time of the triple murders.

With no surviving witnesses to the Oct. 24, 2008, slayings or fingerprints, prosecutors built a circumstantial case against Balfour by calling 83 witnesses over 11 days of testimony.

Witnesses said he threatened to kill the entire family if Julia Hudson spurned him.

Balfour's attorneys proposed an alternate theory: that someone else in the crime-ridden neighborhood on Chicago's South Side targeted the family because of alleged crack-cocaine dealing by Jennifer Hudson's brother, Jason Hudson.

During the 30 minutes in which they called just two witnesses, however, they presented no evidence to support that theory.

Jennifer Hudson, who was in Florida at the time of the killings, attended every day of the two-weeks of testimony, sobbing when photos of her relatives' bloodied bodies were displayed to jurors during closing arguments.

Known for wearing tony designer dresses on Hollywood's red carpets, Hudson wore toned-down clothes at the trial, often all black.

Hudson, 30, rose to prominence as a 2004 "American Idol" finalist. But she became a bona fide star for her performance in the film adaptation of the musical, "Dreamgirls," for which she won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

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