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Jennifer Hudson Family Murder Trial: Prosecution Rests

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HUDSON PROSECUTION RESTS
In this courtroom sketch, Willam Balfour, second from right, listens as Assistant State's Attorney Veryl Gambino gives opening statements before Cook County Judge Charles Burns at Balfour's murder trial, Monday, April 23, 2012, in Chicago. Balfour is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the October 2008 killings of singer and actress Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew. Seated next to Balfour is defense attorney Edward Kozoboski. (AP Photo/Tom Gianni) | AP

CHICAGO — The man accused of killing three of Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson's relatives did not take the stand and his attorneys put on a mere 30-minute defense Tuesday, calling just two detectives in a bid to suggest they botched the 2008 investigation.

The brief defense followed a two-week presentation by prosecutors, who called 83 witnesses, including Hudson herself, as they sought to prove William Balfour shot the star's mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in a fit of jealous rage. Balfour, 30, is Hudson's former brother-in-law.

Hudson was in court Tuesday as she was every day for testimony. Wearing a beige blouse, pants and high heels, she looked more relaxed than usual – smiling once as a prosecutor cross-examined one witness. Hudson was the first witness called, testifying about the last time she saw her family.

Prosecutors wrapped up their case earlier Tuesday after showing pictures of Hudson's nephew, Julian King, whom the actress and singer testified she endearingly called, Tugga Bear. He was found in an SUV, shot in the head, covered by a shower curtain and surrounded by shell casings, officers testified.

The detectives called by the defense had testified earlier for prosecutors. Defense attorney Cynthia Brown pressed Gregory Jacobson about a 2008 report where he wrote a witness saw the SUV in which King's body was found about 6 p.m. a day after the murders. He told prosecutors the witness saw it about 6 a.m. The officer said he made a mistake in the original report.

The other detective, Thomas Kelly, conceded he hadn't listed keys found on Balfour in a report weeks after the killings. Another item not mentioned was Balfour's unused transit card, evidence that prosecutors say discredited Balfour's alibi that he had taken a subway train the day of the murders.

"It's not an all-encompassing report," Kelly told jurors.

The defense may use the admission about the keys and apparent confusion over the time the SUV was spotted in closing arguments to bolster its claim that police rushed to pin the murders on Balfour because of intense media coverage spurred by Hudson's stardom.

Judge Charles Burns said closing arguments would begin Wednesday morning, after which jurors will begin deliberating.

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

Before the defense called its first witness, Burns asked whether Balfour planned to testify, and attorney Amy Thompson told the judge he "determined he does not wish to testify."

Judges typically instruct juries not to hold it against defendants if they choose not to testify, and Burns will likely do that before jurors start their deliberations Wednesday.

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 on Oct. 24, 2008; he then allegedly shot Hudson's 29-year-old brother in the head as he lay in bed and drove off in Jason Hudson's SUV with King.

Balfour allegedly shot the boy several times in the head as he lay behind a front seat. His body was found in the abandoned vehicle miles away after a frantic, three-day search.

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Follow Michael Tarm at www.twitter.com/mtarm

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