Wed, Dec 03, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Estranged relative arrested in Hudson family triple murder


Police arrested the estranged brother-in-law of Jennifer Hudson in the shooting deaths of the entertainer’s mother, brother and young nephew, taking him from a prison where he had been held on a suspected parole violation.

William Balfour, 27, was arrested on Monday at Stateville Correctional Center on a warrant accusing him of murdering the relatives of the singer and Oscar-winning actress, Chicago police spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

Until Monday, police had identified Balfour only as a “person of interest” in the investigation. He had not been formally charged as of Monday night, said Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for the Cook County state attorney’s office.

“He vehemently denies that he is guilty in this case,” Balfour’s attorney Joshua Kutnick told reporters outside police headquarters. “Any evidence pointing to Mr Balfour is not even thin. It is very, very weak.”

The bodies of Jennifer Hudson’s mother, Darnell Hudson Donerson, and brother, Jason Hudson, were discovered on Oct. 24 at the family’s home on the South Side of Chicago. The body of seven-year-old Julian King was found three days later in a sport utility vehicle on the West Side. All three had been shot.

Police took Balfour into custody the same day the bodies of Donerson and Hudson were discovered. After 48 hours — the longest Chicago police can hold a person without charges — Balfour was taken by the Illinois Department of Corrections on the suspected parole violation.

Balfour — Julian’s stepfather and the estranged husband of Jennifer Hudson’s older sister, Julia Hudson — served seven years for a 1999 attempted murder and vehicular hijacking conviction.

Balfour had refused to take a lie-detector test and stopped cooperating with detectives, according to a police official who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Police said they found the gun used in the killings. The .45-­caliber gun was discovered on Oct. 29 in a vacant lot in the West Side neighborhood where King’s body was found a few days earlier.

The police spokeswoman declined to discuss any evidence on Monday.

But after a hearing at the prison last month, the chairman of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board said a woman had told authorities that a gun used in the slayings was “identical” to the gun that was recovered.

Jennifer Hudson was a finalist in the 2004 season of the TV singing competition American Idol and won an Oscar last year for her film debut, a supporting role in Dreamgirls.

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