CHICAGO — The brother-in-law of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson killed three of her relatives _ with a gun stolen from one of the victims _ because he was angry his estranged wife, the star's sister, was dating another man, prosecutors alleged Wednesday.
William Balfour appeared in court for the first time in connection with the deaths and was denied bond. His attorney said authorities have no forensic evidence linking Balfour to the killings, but prosecutors said witness statements and the suspect's own lies and threats helped lead them to him.
Balfour was charged with murder Tuesday after being held for weeks on a parole violation. The slightly built man, wearing a yellow jump suit, stood quietly Wednesday as prosecutor LuAnn Snow described how he allegedly killed his 7-year-old stepson, Julian King, Hudson's mother, Darnell Hudson Donerson, and Hudson's brother, Jason Hudson.
Snow said Balfour had been at the Hudsons' South Side home early Oct. 24 and confronted his estranged wife, Julia Hudson, about a birthday present he believed she had received from a boyfriend.
Balfour, Snow said, also had shown up to Julia Hudson's workplace earlier in the month to confront her about dating another man.
"He told her at the time that her family would suffer if she saw other men," Snow said after Wednesday's hearing.
Balfour threatened Julia Hudson again that morning at the home, Snow said, adding that Hudson did not take the threat seriously because he "had not followed through on any of those threats" before.
The two left the home together that morning, with Hudson driving away as she saw Balfour walking toward his own car, according to documents prosecutors filed with the court.
But Balfour's car broke down and two acquaintances gave him a ride to a gas station _ during which time Balfour told them he had a handgun, but had left it in his car, Snow alleged.
In fact, the prosecutor said, the gun belonged to Jason Hudson and Balfour allegedly stole it during the summer. "Several people observed defendant with the gun in the late summer of 2008," Snow said.
Balfour was taken back to his disabled car after the trip to the gas station, "although he was offered a ride to other locations," Snow told the court.
In the stark language of a legal document she was reading from, Snow described what allegedly happened next:
"Defendant then entered the home at 7019 S. Yale at gunpoint," she read. "He shot Darnell Donerson several times while she was in the living room area. He then went into Jason Hudson's bedroom and shot him two times in the head."
Jason Hudson, she said, was still in bed when he was shot.
Balfour allegedly then took 7-year-old Julian and put him in Jason Hudson's white SUV. "Defendant shot Julian King in the head while the 7-year-old was laying behind the front seat of the Suburban," Snow read. His body was found three days later in the SUV.
Balfour's attorney, Joshua Kutnick, criticized the first-degree murder and home invasion charges against his client, saying no fingerprint, blood or other forensic evidence links the 27-year-old to the slayings.
"There is no direct evidence of Mr. Balfour committing these crimes," he said, adding that a girlfriend who claims Balfour confessed to her and asked her to provide him with an alibi is "highly suspect."
Snow said there is evidence linking Balfour to the crimes, including gunshot residue on the steering wheel of the car that had broken down.
Further, she said, Balfour has made statements to authorities that detectives have disproved. For example, while Balfour claimed he used a transit card to ride a train from the Hudson residence to his home, "The card was last used two days before the murders," Snow said.
Balfour also does not appear on surveillance video of the train station he said he rode to, Snow said.
Cell phone records and gas station surveillance video show Balfour was in the immediate vicinity of the Hudsons' home until shortly after 9 a.m., according to the court documents. Snow said Balfour claimed he was at his West Side home at 10 a.m. the morning of the killings but cell phone records show he did not return there until just before 1 p.m.
Kutnick argued that none of that means his client killed anyone. He told the judge Balfour has not confessed and no one has come forward saying they saw him commit the crimes.
As for the gunshot residue, Kutnick said after Wednesday's hearing that Balfour's car had been left unattended the day of the killings and it wasn't known if anyone else had used it. He also said witnesses linking Balfour to Jason Hudson's stolen gun are unreliable.
Balfour previously went to prison for seven years for attempted murder and vehicular hijacking. His next court date in the murder case is set for Dec. 30.
Jennifer Hudson was a finalist in the 2004 season of "American Idol" and won an Oscar in 2007 for best supporting actress in "Dreamgirls." She has mostly stayed out of the spotlight and close to her family since the killings.
Her publicist said Wednesday that the actress would not offer any comment.