Lifestyle of Jennifer Hudson's brother factor in trial

April 24, 2012

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It’s no secret that Jason Hudson sold drugs.

The drug dealings of actress Jennifer Hudson’s brother is a focus in the trial of the Chicago man accused of killing members of her family.

But prosecutors and the defense have different interpretations of how that impacts the first-degree murder charges against William Balfour. He’s on trial for the October 2008 shootings of Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew. Balfour has pleaded not guilty to the killings of Darnell Donerson, 57, Jason Hudson, 29, and Julian King, 7. Sister Julia Hudson was married to Balfour until recently. Prosecutors say he killed the family out of jealously.

Balfour’s lawyers say Jason Hudson moved weight - large quantities of drugs. They say Chicago police didn’t explore that as a motive for murder in the family’s crime-ridden Englewood neighborhood.

Lonnie Simpson is the half brother of the Hudson siblings. He testified on Tuesday that he and Jason sold drugs but only dime bags, or $10 worth of crack, and not out of the home where Jason and his mother were found dead. Simpson said Jason often barbequed for the block and was well liked in the neighborhood.

Simpson testified that he sold Jason, who had previously been shot several times in the leg, a .45 caliber handgun. That weapon was used in the Hudson murders and prosecutors say Balfour stole the gun from Jason and used it in the killings.

Balfour sold crack, too. Several witnesses who were convicted felons in the neighborhood testified that Balfour hung out in the vicinity of the Hudson house on 70th and Yale the morning of the murders.

Witness Tyrone Dunbar said he bought a dime bag of crack from Balfour that same morning.

Jurors heard various recollections on Tuesday: Balfour wanted to beat up Jason Hudson. Balfour never threatened the Hudson family. Balfour told friends he had martial problems with Julia.

Jennifer and Julia Hudson sat in the courtroom for most of Tuesday's testimony.