Life sentence in Jennifer Hudson family slayings

Judge tells convicted murderer he has 'the heart of an arctic night.'

July 24, 2012

(AP/File)

The man convicted of murdering the mother, brother and nephew of Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson will spend the rest of his life in prison.

A Cook County judge on Tuesday gave William Balfour three consecutive life sentences. Balfour was convicted in May of first-degree murder in the 2008 killings. The actress and singer sat in the Chicago courtroom for the sentencing. She dabbed at her eyes.

The sentencing came after Circuit Judge Charles Burns denied a request from Balfour for a new trial.

Balfour faced a mandatory life sentence. Illinois does not have the death penalty.

Balfour was married to Hudson's sister. Prosecutors contend he shot the family members in a jealous rage because she was dating another man.

Burns had chilling words for Balfour during the sentencing. The judge told Balfour, 31, who has previous felonies that he has “the heart of an arctic night” and his “soul is barren as dark space.”

In addition, Balfour received an additional 120 years for home invasion, aggravated kidnapping and motor vehicle theft. He maintains his innocence.

Balfour’s attorneys say they will appeal.

In October 2008, Darnell Donerson, 57, and Jason Hudson, 29, were found shot to death in their Englewood home on Chicago’s South Side. A few days later police recovered the body of Hudson’s seven-year-old nephew, Julian King, in a SUV on the West Side.

Balfour was married to Hudson’s older sister Julia at the time of the grisly murders. Prosecutors say Balfour pulled the trigger out of jealousy. Julia Hudson testified that Balfour told her at least 25 times, “If you leave me, you’ll be the last to die. I’ll kill your family first.” She also testified that Balfour stole her brother’s .45-caliber gun, which was the weapon used in the murders.

In court, Balfour gave condolences to the Hudson family. He said he loved seven-year-old victim Julian King, his stepson.

“My deepest prayers go out to Julian King,” Balfour said.

Judge Burns said that statement was “an insult to all of us.”

Gregory King, father of Julian, gave a victim impact statement before the sentencing.

“I miss picking Julian up from the school bus. I miss going on field trips with him. I even miss him bugging me about Sponge Bob Square Pants, a cartoon character he was kind of afraid of,” King said. “William Balfour, I have many ill wishes for you. I will leave these in the hands of God.”

King then walked toward the back of the courtroom. He stopped and glared at Balfour’s family before returning to his seat.