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 (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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