Jennifer Hudson breaks down in testimony at murder trial
BY MICHAEL TARM Associated Press
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
4/24/12 at 6:29 AM
CHICAGO - Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson broke down in tears Monday while testifying at the trial of the man accused of killing her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in a jealous rage four years ago.
Hudson was the first witness called after prosecutors and attorneys for William Balfour finished their opening statements. During her brief but emotional testimony, she told jurors her family didn't want her sister to marry Balfour, and she spoke about the last time she saw her family members.
The singer and actress, who wore a subdued black dress and whose hair was wrapped in a bun, at first seemed composed as a prosecutor began asking her questions. But the testimony became increasingly difficult, and she began crying when talking about seeing her family the Sunday before the killings and later when a prosecutor showed her a picture of her mother.
Her voice also broke as she described her reaction when her sister, Julia Hudson, told her she was going to marry Balfour.
"None of us wanted her to marry him," she said, her voice cracking and struggling to hold back tears. "We did not like how he treated her," she said.
Balfour has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in the October 2008 slayings.
Early on during Hudson's testimony, a prosecutor asked her to identify the defendant. Hudson poked her head around the judge's bench and pointed at Balfour.
"He's sitting right there," she said.
Balfour looked back at Hudson. But he otherwise showed little emotion during her testimony and during opening statements.
After more than 30 minutes on the stand, Hudson grabbed a fistful of tissues and walked slowly across the courtroom directly in front of jurors. She then took a seat next to her fiance, David Otunga, best known for his stint on VH1's reality show "I Love New York."
During opening statements, prosecutor Veryl Gambino said Balfour began threatening to harm the family after moving out of Hudson's family home. Balfour's divorce from Julia Hudson was finalized last year.
"Those were not idle threats. ... They were deadly warnings of what was to come," Gambino told the Cook County jury.
Defense attorney Amy Thompson offered jurors another take on the killings, telling jurors police pinned them on Balfour because they felt pressured to make an arrest.
"As soon as that (that a celebrity was linked to the case) became known, they knew coverage would explode," Thompson said. "The police were on the hook. They had to find their man and find him fast."
Jennifer Hudson, the 2004 "American Idol" finalist and 2007 Oscar winner for her role in "Dreamgirls," is expected to attend each day of testimony. Judge Charles Burns has instructed jurors to set aside any sympathy for Hudson and decide a verdict strictly according to testimony.
Original Print Headline: Jennifer Hudson testifies at trial