William Balfour, the estranged brother in law of Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson, was sentenced Tuesday to three consecutive life terms for killing Hudson’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.
Cook County Circuit Judge Charles Burns denied Balfour's request earlier Tuesday for a new trial, WLS-TV Chicago reported.
Balfour’s attorneys filed a motion for a new trial last month, arguing in part that Hudson's testimony unfairly influenced the jury because of her celebrity.
The Chicago Tribune states that such motions are routinely filed to raise issues for appeal and are almost never granted by the trial judge.
A Cook County jury convicted Balfour in May of gunning down the Chicago-born superstar's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, and brother Jason Hudson, 29, in the family's South Side house where she grew up and then kidnapping and killing her 7-year-old nephew Julian King.
Prosecutors argued that Balfour, who was married to Hudson’s sister, Julia -- and dating three other women-- flew in a jealous rage when he thought his then-estranged wife had started dating another man, according to testimony.
But Balfour’s lawyer cited the lack of physical evidence tying Balfour to the crime scenes and said the judge didn’t give the defense enough time to prepare its case.
The car jacking and attempted murder
Prosecutors also called victims from Balfour's past crimes.
William Balfour is convicted of killing three members of singer Jennifer Hudson's family
One such victim was Charles Gardner. Eliciting laughter in the courtroom, Gardner, 48, testified about the time that he caught Balfour in the act of stealing his Chevy Suburban in front of Gardner’s fiancé’s home in November 1998.
Upon seeing Balfour drive away, like a scene from an action movie, Gardner said that he chased after Balfour and jumped on top of his truck onto the luggage rack.
“He had his elbow out of the window as if it was his,” Gardner said, incredulous, laughter echoed in the courtroom, the Sun-Times said.
Even after Balfour was aware Gardner was on the vehicle, he still kept driving touching off a wild police chase through several South Side neighborhoods and down the Dan Ryan Expressway as Balfour weaved in and out lanes trying to shake him off the roof, Gardner said.
But he wasn't going anywhere without his truck.
“At that point I was just going for the ride,” he said. “It was like watching Walter Payton going into the end zone.”
Even Jennifer Hudson laughed when Gardner said he gave up telling Balfour to give his car back as he hung on.
And how fast was Balfour driving on the expressway? asked Assistant State's Attorney Jim McKay, The Tribune says.
"I would say close to 100 miles per hour," Gardner said.
By the end of the car chase, Gardner said he suffered contusions, scrapes and bruises. Balfour was charged with carjacking and attempted murder. He pleaded guilty and spent nearly a decade in prison.
He was still on parole when Hudson’s three relatives were murdered in October 2008.
The Killer speaks: I loved him
Jennifer Hudson's mother Darnell Donerson,57,(L) her brother Jason Hudson, 29, (C) and her 7-year-old nephew Julian King(R)
The Chicago Sun-Times says before the judge handed down his sentence, Balfour, 31, turned and addressed the court offering his “condolences and prayers” to Hudson’s family.
Balfour spoke as he stood at the defense table in a tan jail jumpsuit and looked toward his own family, not at Jennifer Hudson or her family who were seated across the aisle, the Tribune noted.
But it would be his next words that later earned the judge's rebuke.
“My deepest sympathies to Julian King," Balfour said of Hudson's nephew, whom he was convicted of killing adding: "I loved him. I still love him.”
These words came after Gregory King, Julian's father, earlier in Tuesday’s hearing, testified that his heart “dropped” when he learned Julian was missing.
When the body of the boy was discovered, “instantly it was like a chunk of my heart was ripped out,” King said. He told Balfour he has many “ill wishes for you.”
Julian's mother, Julia, in her May testimony said that Balfour was very jealous of her son. So jealous that the little boy was not allowed to hug her while Balfour was in the same room. "She's my wife," Julia quoted Balfour of saying to her son.
Judge Burns offered his assessment of Balfour’s statements.
For Balfour to say he loved Julian is an “insult to all of us,” Burns said, adding that Balfour’s soul is “barren” as dark space.