By Don Babwin
CHICAGO — The man convicted of gunning down the mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew of Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday.
Hudson, who attended every day of William Balfour’s trial earlier this year, sat next to her sister at the hearing and at one point dabbed her eyes with a tissue.
The sentencing hearing came a little more than two months after a jury convicted Balfour in the Oct. 24, 2008, shooting deaths of Hudson’s 57-year-old mother Darnell Donerson, her 29-year-old brother Jason Hudson and her 7-year-old nephew Julian King. The judge sentenced Balfour to three terms of life in prison plus 120 years on other charges.
“You have the heart of an arctic night,” Cook County Circuit Judge Charles Burns told Balfour. “Your soul is as barren as dark space.”
Prosecutors portrayed Balfour, who was married to Hudson’s sister Julia Hudson, as a jealous estranged husband who often stalked Julia Hudson’s house after he moved out in early 2008. But Balfour’s attorneys suggested that someone else committed a crime in the family’s three-story house in Englewood on Chicago’s South Side.
Balfour faced a mandatory life sentence. Illinois does not have the death penalty.
The only person to give a victim impact statement in court was Gregory King, the father of Hudson’s nephew. He told the judge he felt like his heart was ripped out when he found out his son, Julian King, was dead.
“I miss picking Julian up from the school bus,” King said. “I miss going on field trips with him … I miss him spending the night with me and my other children.”
Balfour gave a brief statement, offering his condolences to the Hudson family while maintaining his innocence.
“My deepest prayers goes out to Julian King,” Balfour said. “I loved him. I still love him. I’m innocent your honor.”
Before the sentencing, Burns denied a request for a new trial from Balfour’s defense.