Jury deliberates 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 deliberated late into the night Wednesday without reaching a verdict after sitting through sometimes heated and embittered closing arguments at the Chicago trial of the man accused of slaying Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.
The actress and singer sobbed and dabbed her eyes when prosecutors displayed photos of the bullet-riddled bodies of her three close relatives during closing arguments earlier in the day.
Prosecutors contend Hudson's former brother-in-law, William Balfour, killed the family members in October 2008 in an act of vengeance against Hudson's sister, Julia Hudson, to whom he was married but estranged at the time.
The judge at the high-profile trial told jurors they would be sequestered — staying at a nearby hotel overnights until they reached a verdict. They deliberated for more than four hours Wednesday and were scheduled to return to the courthouse to continue deliberations Thursday morning.
With no surviving witnesses to present, prosecutors spent two weeks laying out a largely circumstantial case against Balfour, a 30-year-old one-time gang member.
Public defender Amy Thompson seized on that during her closing argument, saying prosecutors had failed to meet their burden of proving Balfour was the killer.
"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."
In a scathing final word to jurors before they began deliberations, lead prosecutor James McKay said for jurors to believe Balfour is innocent they would have to believe he was just unlucky enough to have someone else kill the Hudsons after he himself had threatened to murder them at least 25 times, as witnesses had testified.
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)
"I want to introduce you to William Balfour, the MegaMillions winner of bad luck," he said. "But Mr. Innocent here did everything a guilty man would do," including lying about his whereabouts and getting rid of the clothes he wore on the day of the triple murders.
McKay at times gritted his teeth, snarled and pointed at Balfour, who has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder.
At one point, he walked up to look directly at Balfour from a few feet away. His voice soaring, McKay boomed, "Calling the defendant a dog is an insult to dogs!" The comment prompted a buzz among spectators and objections from the defense.