Closing arguments begin; jury to deliberate
- Category: Chicago
- Published on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 00:00
- Written by The Chicago Defender
- Hits: 220
Day 11 of the People vs. William Balfour was the final day of testimony in the case against the man accused of murdering three relatives of Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.
Prosecutors rested its case Tuesday after calling more than 80 witnesses during the two-week trial. The defense called two witnesses –– Chicago police detectives –– then concluded its case.
Both detectives called by the defense testified earlier for the prosecution. The defense pressed one about a 2008 report in which he wrote that a witness saw the SUV in which the King's body was found about 6 p.m. on the day after the murders. The detective had testified the witness saw the vehicle about 6 a.m. The officer said he made a mistake in the original report.
The defense may use that admission, and other alleged errors, to bolster its claim that police rushed to pin the murders on Balfour because of intense media coverage spurred by Hudson's stardom.
Before the defense called its first witness, Judge Charles Burns asked whether Balfour planned to testify, and attorney Amy Thompson told the judge he "determined he does not wish to testify."
Judges typically instruct juries not to hold it against defendants if they choose not to testify, and Burns will likely do that before jurors start their deliberations Wednesday.
Balfour has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charges.
With no surviving witnesses to the slayings, prosecutors have spent two weeks laying out a largely circumstantial case against Balfour. Defense attorneys have been critical of that, and before a lunch break, defense attorney Amy Thompson asked the judge to dismiss the charges against Balfour, saying prosecutors had called no direct witnesses.
Burns denied the motion, which is commonly made by defense attorneys after prosecutors rest.
Illinois State Police analyst Pauline Gordon said she tested the .45-caliber pistol and found a limited amount of DNA belonging to a male, but it excluded Balfour. Gordon explained that DNA would not be present if the killer was wearing gloves or wiped the weapon clean.
Gordon also testified that she tested numerous samples taken from the SUV, including swabs from door handles, the rear view mirror, gear shift and other areas someone might have touched. Pop bottles, a cigarette butt and used tissue strewn about the vehicle were also tested, but none of the samples matched Balfour's DNA, she said.
Earlier, Illinois State Police forensic analyst Robert Berk testified he found gunshot residue on the ceiling above the rear seat of the Jason Hudson's SUV and on a steering wheel cover in Balfour's vehicle. According to Burk, the residue on the steering wheel cover was consistent with someone firing a gun, then driving the car.
Quincy Brown, a prosecution witness, testified Monday, he and Balfour swapped cars in early October 2008 and he saw the murder weapon in Balfour’s console rest.
“I opened up the console and it was on top,” said Brown.
On cross-examination, Brown admitted he fired the gun that day “toward the air” but it hit a parked car.
On Tuesday, prosecutors showed pictures of Hudson's nephew in the SUV where his body was found. When he was first found, a detective said there was a shower curtain over the boy's body. He had been shot in the head, and at least one bullet went through the floor of the vehicle.
Jennifer Hudson has sat through the trial on fourth-row bench, hanging her head during particularly grim testimony. She took the stand last month as prosecutors' first witness, testifying about the last time she saw her family alive. She also spoke about how much she always disliked Balfour.
She saw her mother, Darnell Donerson, brother Jason Hudson and Julian King, the 7-year-old nephew, the Sunday before the Oct. 24, 2008 slayings.
Hudson broke down on the stand as she described the “rare” gathering of the entire family being together, including “Dreamgirl” the dog.
Usually it’s just a few of them, she said, but that time was different. It was a moment she’ll cherish forever.
Prosecutors content Balfour targeted the family in a horrific act of vindictiveness against his ex-wife. The tipping point, they believe, was a bouquet of balloons for Julia Hudson he saw at the Hudson home. He believed they were from a new boyfriend.
Witnesses have testified that the 30-year-old Balfour, who is the ex-husband of Hudson's sister Julia Hudson, threatened to kill members of the Hudson family numerous times.
The defense said Jason Hudson and his alleged drug dealing could be connected to the murders.
Balfour would face a mandatory life sentence if convicted.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.