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3 life terms for killer of Jennifer Hudson’s relatives

William Balfour

William Balfour

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Updated: July 30, 2012 4:55PM



It was Tugga Bear’s daddy’s turn.

Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson and her sister Julia opted not to take the witness stand before the man convicted of killing their three family members was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison Tuesday.

Instead, they allowed the father of the youngest victim — the 7-year-old the superstar lovingly called Tugga Bear — a chance to speak on behalf of their clan.

“No innocent child, no loving grandma or mother, brother, or uncle, no innocent person deserves to be slaughtered like William Balfour slaughtered Julian, Ms. Donerson and Jason,” Gregory King said haltingly, holding back his sniffles.

Then, moments later, Cook County Judge Charles Burns reamed into Balfour for the slayings that claimed the lives of the superstar’s mother, brother and nephew Julian King.

“You have the heart of an arctic night and your soul is as barren as dark space,” Burns told a stoic Balfour, 31, before sentencing him to the three life terms without possibility of parole.

Burns also sentenced Balfour to an additional 120 years for the home invasion, aggravated kidnapping and possession of a stolen motor vehicle convictions tied to the “chilling” triple murders that were fueled by Balfour’s jealousy over his then estranged wife’s Julia Hudson’s budding relationship with another man.

Jennifer Hudson squeezed her sister’s hand, occasionally dabbing her eyes with a tissue as the judge lambasted Balfour for fatally shooting the mother-in-law he felt was meddling in his crumbling marriage, the brother-in-law he branded an enemy and the boy who may have witnessed the bloodshed inside the home, in the 7000 block of South Yale.

Burns said he was sure Balfour only lured Julian away from the house and killed him so he could take the closest thing to Julia Hudson and the Hudson family.

“There’s no doubt in my mind he looked up to you as you were putting bullets into his head,” Burns said of the boy’s last moments. “I just hope his terror was short-lived.”

Gregory King had told Burns he has nothing but “ill wishes” and rage toward Balfour, who flaunted his countless affairs but executed Julia Hudson’s loved ones four years ago because he couldn’t fathom the thought of her with someone else.

A few feet away, Jennifer Hudson, dressed in a silver jumpsuit and black blazer, sat with her legs crossed next to her surviving sibling as King spoke of the pain of losing his son.

King, who didn’t testify during Balfour’s jury trial last spring, said when Julia Hudson had called him on Oct. 24, 2008, to tell him her mother and brother were found murdered in their Englewood home and that their little boy was missing, his “heart dropped.”

The news grew bleaker three days later when Julian’s body was found on the West Side inside his uncle’s stolen SUV.

“Instantly it was like a chunk of my heart was ripped out,” said an emotional King, a big gold cross necklace resting across his chest.

“I felt hopeless.”

King said he missed Julian, who was “kind of afraid” but fascinated by SpongeBob SquarePants and often slept over and played with his half-brother and sister.

King wasn’t the only one in court to express tender feelings for the boy. The child’s killer said he will always care for him too.

After offering “condolences and prayers” to the family of Darnell Donerson, 57, Jason Hudson, 29, and Julian, Balfour singled out the child.

“My deepest sympathies go to Julian King. I loved him. I still love him,” said Balfour.

But Burns seethed at Balfour and dismissed him as a man who doesn’t have a single “ounce of remorse.” Balfour’s proclamation of love for Julian, Burns added, was “insult to all of us.”

While Burns spoke Tuesday, Balfour’s mother, Michele Davis-Balfour, cried while she was comforted by family and friends who were stared down earlier by King as he made his way back to his seat after reading his victim impact statement.

At one point, Balfour’s sister, Sensuous, left the courtroom sobbing loudly.

Burns rejected Balfour’s bid for a new trial after his lawyer cited in part the “prejudicial effect” the actress’ presence in court had on the jury. Balfour told Burns he plans to appeal the sentencing.

Although Balfour went into the hearing facing a mandatory life sentence, prosecutors presented a half dozen witnesses to showcase Balfour’s penchant for committing crimes.

Charles Gardner said that he ran after Balfour in his sweatpants and socks and ended up jumping on top of his Chevy Suburban when Balfour stole the vehicle in front of his fiancee’s South Side home in 1998.

Even after Balfour was aware Gardner was on the SUV, he still kept driving and even got on the Dan Ryan Expy. speeding up to 100 miles per hour, Gardner said.

“He had his elbow out of the window as if it was his,” Gardner said, eliciting laughter in the courtroom.

Even Jennifer Hudson smiled at her sister when Gardner said he gave up telling Balfour to stop and return the car as he hung on and a police chase ensued.

“At that point I was just going for the ride,” Gardner said. “It was like watching Walter Payton going into the end zone.”

Balfour eventually pleaded guilty to attempted murder and carjacking and served seven years behind bars for the crime.

He was on parole when he murdered the Hudsons and Julian.

Balfour and Julia Hudson’s divorce was finalized late last year as he awaited trial, according to court records.

Neither Balfour’s attorneys nor prosecutors offered comment following Tuesday’s hearing but State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said she was “extremely pleased” with the severe sentence in a prepared statement.

King also left the Leighton Criminal Courthouse politely refusing to talk to reporters as he walked away with other family members.

And Jennifer Hudson was whisked away through a secret passageway as she had for the duration of the 11-day trial, escaping the glare of the cameras awaiting to capture her every move.



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