CHICAGO (AP) — Potential jurors got their first look Thursday at the man accused in the 2008 slayings of actress and singer Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew ahead of trial testimony set to begin later this month.
When Judge Charles Burns introduced the defendant, a deferential William Balfour stood, tugged nervously on his tie as he turned to face the some 150 would-be jurors, and said firmly, “Good afternoon, everybody.” Many of the would-be jurors responded in unison: “Good afternoon.'”
The offbeat moment came in a Chicago courtroom just before the judge read a 300-name list of potential witnesses that includes Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson. Prosecutors allege Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson’s sister, shot the family in a jealous rage because Julia Hudson was dating another man.
The 30-year-old defendant appeared in court wearing a white dress shirt, yellow tie and shiny black shoes. His hair — bushy and disheveled in previous court appearances — was newly cut short per the judge’s order earlier this week.
The pool of potential jurors filled out questionnaires that will help determine if they will be among the 12 jurors and six alternates who will sit in judgment of Balfour.
Some of those crowded on the courtroom benches gasped and their eyes widened when the judge read the name of the case and the indictment, presumably realizing for the first time they might be part of the high-profile, celebrity trial. When the judge asked if anyone was closely acquainted with any of the witness names he read, about 10 of the possible jurors raised their hands.
Jennifer Hudson, 30, who won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in 2007 for her role in “Dreamgirls” and a Grammy for best R&B album the same year of the killings, did not attend proceedings on Thursday, though she is expected to attend once testimony gets under way.
Standing at his high judge’s bench, occasionally pacing, Judge Burns spoke at length about the gravity of jurors’ duties if selected. Striking a professorial tone, he emphasized repeatedly that they should not allow anything they have heard about the killings to affect their judgment.
“Cases in our country are not tried on street corners or over dinner or in the media,” the lanky gray-haired judge told them. “They are tried in the courtroom.”
Potential jurors should avoid reading, listening to or watching the news, and they should not surf the Internet, the judge instructed them sternly.
“No Twitter, no Facebook, no LinkedIn,” he said.
Burns has also strictly barred reporters from tweeting or posting messages to Facebook from inside the courtroom, a court spokesman explaining that he didn’t want constant typing on cell phones to distract jurors and other courtroom participants.
In another bid to ensure the intense media interest in the case doesn’t undercut the process, jury names will be kept secret until after the verdict in an effort to prevent reporters or others trying to contact the panelists during the trial.
Jennifer Hudson reportedly told investigators she talked to her mother in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood every day and knew something was wrong when she hadn’t heard from her by late in the morning of Oct. 24, 2008.
Several hours later, Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, and brother, Jason Hudson, 29, were found shot to death in the family’s home. The body of her nephew Julian King was found days later in a vehicle several miles away.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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