A maintenance man who grew up with singer Jennifer Hudson's family on Chicago's South Side testified Thursday that he could think of only one man who would have wanted to harm Hudson's brother: William Balfour.
Balfour, on trial on charges he killed Hudson's brother, mother and nephew, sat expressionless at the defense table as Kent Williams testified. The prosecution witness recounted his relationship with his best friend, Hudson's brother, Jason, who was a drug dealer but also a popular fixture in the neighborhood. He was known for paying people to run errands and throwing lavish barbecues for everyone on the block in Englewood, he said.
Dressed in a black leather jacket and white T-shirt, Williams, 27, testified in a deep baritone, sometimes lapsing into slang that was difficult to decipher. He said Jason Hudson sold only modest amounts of cocaine called "dime bags," paid cash for his supply and did not owe anyone money.
When Assistant State's Attorney James McKay asked if Jason Hudson had any enemies, Williams pointed toward Balfour and snapped, "Besides that cat sittin' over there, no." Chuckles rippled through the courtroom.
Balfour, 30, is accused of fatally shooting Jason Hudson, 29; the actress' mother, Darnell Donerson, 57; and her 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, in a jealousy-fueled rage over the breakup of his marriage to Hudson's sister, Julia.
Prosecutors have alleged that Balfour disliked Jason Hudson, had told others he wanted to hurt him and had stolen his .45-caliber pistol just weeks before he used it to commit the October 2008 slayings.
Balfour's attorneys have suggested that investigators, influenced by Hudson's celebrity, focused immediately on Balfour and ignored possible links in the slayings to Jason Hudson's drug business.
On Thursday, Williams recounted how violence on the block of the Hudson residence had escalated in the summer of 2008, leading to "a few shootouts," one of which left him with a graze wound to the arm when someone shot at him while he stood on his porch.
Williams broke down on the witness stand when he testified about learning about the slayings from a friend that afternoon.
"She told me the worst thing that I ever heard to this day, actually in my whole life," said Williams, bowing his head and wiping tears from his eyes with the heels of his hands. After a moment, Williams looked up with tears still in his eyes. When McKay asked if he needed a break, Williams sniffled and said, "Naw, I'm good, man."
In the courtroom gallery, Jennifer Hudson used a tissue to dab her eyes and later leaned her head on her sister's shoulder as Williams continued.
In other testimony Thursday, two experts testified that Balfour's fingerprints were nowhere to be found on any of the dozens of items inventoried at the crime scenes, including the alleged murder weapon. The .45-caliber gun was found a few days after the slayings in a weedy West Side lot about a block from where Julian's body was found inside a SUV stolen from the Hudson home.
Anastasia Petruncio, who at the time worked as an Illinois State Police forensic analyst, told jurors that the absence of fingerprints would not be uncommon if the killer wore gloves or the items had been left exposed to the weather.
No testimony is scheduled for Friday in the trial. The prosecution is likely to wrap up its case next week.