Juror selection is underway Monday (April 9) for the trial of William Balfour, who is accused of murdering Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew. Judge Charles Burns is attempting to weed out any would-be jurors that might be influenced by Hudson’s fame.
Court officials say that Hudson is expected to be at the trial every day once testimony begins on April 23, so potential jurors may be more prone to watching for her reactions rather than watching the proceedings.
Last week 150 potential jurors filled out questionnaires with 9 of the 66 questions pertaining to the “Dreamgirls” actress. Additionally, Judge Burns asked if anyone felt like they wouldn’t be able to hear the evidence “without sympathy, bias or prejudice” to come forward — 20 people ultimately stood. He finally told everyone to be seated and to disregard the question for now.
Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, and brother, Jason Hudson, 29, were found shot to death on Oct. 24, 2008 at the family’s home. The body of Hudson’s nephew, Julian King, was found days later in a vehicle. Prosecutors say Balfour killed the family in a fit of jealousy because his estranged wife and Hudson’s sister, Julia Hudson, was dating another man.
If convicted, Balfour faces a maximum life sentence, as Illinois abolished the death penalty this year.