Jury begins deliberating in Hudson family killings
FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2012 file photo, singer and actress Jennifer Hudson attends a book signing in New York. On Wednesday, May 9, 2012, closing arguments are taking place at the Chicago murder trial for William Balfour, Hudson's ex-brother-in-law who is accused of killing her mother, brother and nephew in October 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)
CHICAGO (AP) — Jurors in the case of the man accused of killing relatives of Jennifer Hudson began deliberations late Thursday afternoon after prosecutors trying to counter defense claims of a weak case insisted that "a tsunami of evidence" linked him to the crime.
The defense told jurors during closing arguments that prosecutors had failed to prove that Hudson's former brother-in-law, William Balfour, was the killer. Hudson has attended every day of testimony in the murder trial and was there for closing arguments as well.
The actress and singer bent forward, her head on her knee, and sobbed as prosecutor Jennifer Bagby described what she called "the execution" of the Oscar winner's mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in October 2008.
Bagby showed jurors photos of the victims' bloody bodies juxtaposed with pictures of them alive.
"This defendant is the one that made (them) into these images," Bagby said, glancing back at the photos.
Closing arguments lasted for about four hours, and the jury didn't begin deliberations until shortly before 5 p.m.
Prosecutors contend Balfour killed Hudson's relatives in an act of vengeance against Hudson's sister, Julia Hudson, his estranged wife at the time. Juila Hudson fiddled nervously with a piece of string as Bagby described how her ex-husband allegedly shot her son, Julian King, whom she called Juice Box, through the head.
Balfour "left that innocent child to die in his own pool of blood," covered by an old shower curtain, Bagby told jurors, who looked on intently, many of them taking notes.
Amy Thompson, defense attorney for William Balfour arrives at Cook County Criminal Court, Wednesday, May 9, 2012, in Chicago as closing arguments are set to begin in Balfour's murder trial. Balfour, is charged in the 2008 murder of Oscar and Grammy winning performer Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Public defender Amy Thompson started her closing by pacing the room, walking up to Balfour and then toward the prosecution table, angrily pointing at the three state's attorneys.
"They know as they sit there that they have failed to prove the case," Thompson said almost at a shout.
"I am offended," she went on, "that they would ask you to throw your logic away."
Lead prosecutor James McKay told jurors later that the circumstantial facts against Balfour amounted to "a tsunami of evidence ... that is drowning him in guilt."
During her closing, Bagby laid the alleged murder weapon on the podium, the silver and black .45-caliber handgun clanging as it hit the wood. Bagby said gunshot residue from that gun was found on the steering wheel of Balfour's green Chrysler; bullets taken from the bodies were fired from the same gun, she said.