Jennifer Hudson’s brother-in-law confessed, his mistress testifies
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN AND LAUREN FITZPATRICK Staff Reporters April 27, 2012 10:33AM
FILE - This undated file photo provided April 6, 2012 by the Cook County Sheriff's Department shows William Balfour who is charged in the murders of the mother, brother and nephew of Oscar winner and singer Jennifer Hudson. On Monday, April 23, 2012, opening statements begin in Balfour's trial. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)
Updated: May 30, 2012 8:19AM
Jennifer Hudson’s brother-in-law confessed that he killed two members of the superstar’s family, his mistress testified Friday.
“He said, ‘They got shot,’ and I said, ‘Who?’ He said, ‘Her mother and her brother,’ and I was looking at him crazy … like bug eyed, and just staring at him,” Shonta Cathey told jurors.
“He say he went in and the brother rushed him, and he shot him, and the mother was coming down the stairs, calling his name, and he shot her.”
It was a dramatic day Friday in the murder trial of William Balfour, 30, accused of killing three relatives of his estranged wife and her famous sister.
At one point, Jennifer Hudson crumpled forward on the hard courtroom bench between her fiancé and her sister, Julia, holding a tissue to her eyes and sniffling as she listened.
The Oscar winner turned back once toward Balfour’s mother, who snapped, “What the hell is she looking at?”
Balfour is accused of killing the brother and mother of the Hudson sisters and his 7-year-old stepson.
Cathey said Balfour told her he killed Julia Hudson’s mother and brother hours after the shots were fired on Oct. 24, 2008.
But Balfour promised his mistress that he hadn’t hurt 7-year-old Julian King, as he confessed in her West Side apartment around 3 p.m., the same place he was arrested three hours later, Cathey said.
Cathey wanted to know what happened to the little boy she knew lived there. Balfour claimed the child was outside the home in the 7000 block of South Yale the whole time, Cathey said.
“I told him kids don’t got nothing to so with what grownups go through, I hope it ain’t nothing happen to the little boy,” she continued.
“He said I had nothing to worry about. He laid back down watching TV.”
That’s where Balfour remained until his 6 p.m. arrest.
Balfour denies he killed Darnell Donerson, 57, Jason Hudson, 29, or Julian King. Donerson’s body was found in the living room of her Englewood home. Hudson was found in bed. And Julian’s body was found on Oct. 27 on the West Side in his uncle’s stolen SUV.
Prosecutors say Balfour killed his in-laws and stepson in a jealous rage after learning his estranged wife was seeing someone else.
Balfour’s attorneys claim police arrested the wrong man, rushing to judgment because of the victims’ relationship to the singer and actress.
Cathey knew Balfour was married to Julia Hudson when they met in 2006 working at a Cosi café. By early 2007 — the time Julia Hudson told jurors her marriage soured — Cathey considered herself Balfour’s girlfriend, allowing him to stay the night several times a week in her apartment in the 1900 block of South Spaulding.
She let him into the apartment around noon Oct. 24 to get his blue Timberland boots, then he left again, she said. He had a big bottle of Hennessey brandy, she said.
He returned later, and lay down in her bed, complaining of a headache, she said.
“He said, if anybody asked, he was there at 10:00,” Cathey said. “Then he began to tell me what happened.”
Cathey did initially lie to police about Balfour’s whereabouts when hauled into the police station at 51st and Wentworth for questioning, she admitted.
“I was in love with William,” Cathey told Assistant State’s Attorney Veryl Gambino, “and I didn’t want him to get in trouble.”
Assistant public defender Amy Thompson attacked the key state witness, asking her why she never called 911 even after she saw a TV news story about the Hudson murders claiming police were looking for Balfour.
Thompson also inferred that Cathey would have said anything to get out of the small interrogation room detectives had locked her in that night.
“You knew you weren’t leaving until they wanted you to leave, right?” Thompson asked.
“Yes,” Cathey replied.
For the first time Friday, the state’s case put Balfour behind the wheel of Jason Hudson’s white Chevy suburban. The vehicle was missing when Julia Hudson found the bodies of her mother and brother.
Bill Graham, a 71-year-retired machine operator, recognized Balfour driving northbound on South Spaulding, but not the white SUV he was in around noon that October day.
Usually, Balfour drove a green Chrysler, Graham testified he thought as he watched from his front window.
“I wondered who would let him drive a truck like that because I never seen him drive one before,” Graham said.
Balfour got out with a bottle of booze and went inside the apartment where he stayed, but drove away within minutes. The truck was found on Oct. 27 in the 1300 block of South Kolin after a massive manhunt.
Chicago Police officer Victor Perez was sent to investigate. He shone a flashlight through its tinted windows, illuminating the back seat.
He saw a white cloth.
Then he noticed a small hand.
A body lay on the floor, and quite a bit of blood, so Perez said he called dispatch though he already knew it’d be in vain: “It was already too late to do anything.”