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Sister's ex killed Hudson relatives in jealous rage, prosecutor says

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: William Balfour's lawyer says no forensic evidence linking client to deaths
  • Balfour, 27, denied bail on charges of first-degree murder, home invasion
  • Balfour is the estranged husband of Jennifer Hudson's sister, Julia
  • Hudson's mother, brother and nephew were found dead in October
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From Susan Roesgen
CNN
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(CNN) -- The estranged brother-in-law of singer and actress Jennifer Hudson killed her relatives in a jealous rage because he thought his wife was seeing another man, a prosecutor said Wednesday at a hearing in which bail was denied.

William Balfour, 27, faces three counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Hudson's mother, brother and nephew in October. He is also charged with one count of home invasion.

Balfour is the estranged husband of Jennifer Hudson's sister, Julia Hudson, and the stepfather of 7-year-old Julian King, who was found dead in a car near the Chicago, Illinois, home where the other two victims were killed.

Defense lawyer Josh Kutnick said he intends to fight the charges, calling his client "a victim of circumstance."

Dressed in a neon-yellow jail jumpsuit, Balfour listened as prosecutor LuAnn Snow portrayed him as a jealous man who warned Julia Hudson that "her family would suffer if he saw her with other men."

Balfour's mother, Michelle Davis-Balfour, listened in an area reserved for spectators separated by bulletproof glass from the rest of the gallery.

Snow said Balfour was at the Hudson family home on Chicago's South Side the morning of the murders, the day after Julia Hudson celebrated her birthday.

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Balfour accused her of having a relationship with another man because he saw a birthday present and concluded it was a gift from a boyfriend.

Snow said Julia Hudson left the home and as she drove away, she saw Balfour walking toward his car.

Prosecutors allege that friends took him to a gas station, because Balfour's car had a steering problem, and then back to his car at the Hudson house.

That was when Balfour went into the Hudson home and shot Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in the living room, Snow told Judge Raymond Myles.

Next, Snow said, he shot Jason Hudson, 27, who was still in his bed.

Then, she said, Balfour forced his stepson, Julian, into Jason Hudson's white Suburban.

Prosecutors say Balfour later killed the boy in the car with a single bullet to his head that went through the floor of the SUV. They say the boy's body was wrapped in a "new shower curtain that has been identified as coming from the [Hudson] family home."

His body was found in the car three days later.

Balfour's defense lawyer called the prosecution's case "a quilt with holes in it" and attempted to discredit statements from a woman whom prosecutors say heard Balfour confess to the killings.

Kutnick called the girlfriend "highly suspect," and labeled her statements to police "self-serving and untrue."

He said Balfour had been painted "in the media as a killer." He also questioned why Balfour was not charged with kidnapping for allegedly forcing Julian King into the SUV after the other shootings, suggesting that it pointed to another person.

Balfour himself did not speak during the hearing. The judge set next court date for December 30.

Authorities later found a handgun near the vehicle. Deputy Police Superintendent Steve Peterson said in a news conference Tuesday, when the charges were announced, that the gun was linked to the shootings.

Balfour was first detained for questioning on October 24, the day Donerson and Jason Hudson were found shot to death. Authorities said at the time that they were holding Balfour for an unspecified parole violation.

Balfour "has made statements about the investigation," Peterson said. "However, at this time, we don't want to go into what was said."

Police Superintendent Jody Weis said Hudson's family was "a key partner in this investigation, cooperating with detectives every step of the way under very stressful and painful circumstances." Members of the community also assisted in various ways, he said.

The family is "relieved and happy that the Chicago Police Department was able to bring this case to a successful conclusion," Peterson said.

Hudson's publicist refused to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

Authorities said Tuesday that Balfour's girlfriend was cooperative in the investigation, but did not elaborate.

According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, Balfour spent nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possessing a stolen vehicle. He was free on parole at the time of the shootings.

Hudson won a best supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal of Effie in the film version of the Broadway musical "Dreamgirls." She competed on the third season of the singing competition "American Idol" in 2004, becoming one of the top seven contestants before being eliminated from the contest.

Davis-Balfour passionately defended her son Monday to a gaggle of reporters. She said that at least one of the witnesses who police used to build a case against Balfour was lying.

"My son did not do this. I am sick of this. They need to focus on somebody else," Davis-Balfour said.

She said Balfour has an alibi -- he was with one of his three girlfriends the night of the slaying.

"He was with Diana that night and with Kate in the morning," she said.

Balfour's attorney, Josh Kutnick, also said Balfour has told him that he did not commit the crimes.

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"He believes when the evidence comes out, he will be found not guilty," Kutnick said.

Balfour had a parole hearing scheduled for later this week, but Peterson said Wednesday that the approaching hearing did not influence the timing of the charges being filed.

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