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Witness: William Balfour asked her to cover for him

A phofrom video from Fox-TV Chicago shows an SUV upper left Chicago's West Side Monday morning Oct. 27. 2008 where

A photo from video from Fox-TV in Chicago shows an SUV, upper left, on Chicago's West Side Monday morning, Oct. 27., 2008, where authorities say they've found the body of a young black boy in the SUV that reportedly has a license plate matching the number listed on an Amber Alert issued for Jennifer Hudson's missing nephew, 7-year-old Julian King. (AP Photo/Fox-TV-Chicago) **TELEVISION OUT**

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Updated: June 4, 2012 11:38AM

He pitched in to buy her prom dress, treated her like a little sister, and when the bodies of his in-laws were discovered in their Englewood home, William Balfour asked Brittany Acoff Howard to cover for him, the woman testified Wednesday.

“He told me that if anybody asks you, I’ve been out west all day,” Acoff Howard said Ocsar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson’s brother-in-law told her in the late afternoon of Oct. 24, 2008.

Acoff Howard’s admission came hours after an Illinois State Police forensic expert testified that Balfour’s DNA was not found on the weapon he is accused of using to gun down Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, brother Jason Hudson, 29, and 7-year-old nephew, Julian King.

But another expert testified that Balfour’s steering wheel cover in his green Chrysler tested positive for gunshot residue.

Balfour, who was once married to Julian’s mother, Julia, denies he pulled the trigger, asserting that detectives swiftly apprehended him because of the victims’ relationship to the world famous singer and actress.

Acoff Howard, a former neighbor of the Hudsons, said she initially called Balfour on her brother’s cellphone to ask him if he heard rumors about Jason Hudson being “hurt” or “dead” in the family’s home in the 7000 block of South Yale. Balfour said he did not know what she was talking about. Four minutes later at 3:19 p.m., Acoff Howard’s brother’s phone rang. It was Balfour making the request, Acoff Howard, now 21, said.

“He asked you to lie for him didn’t he?” Cook County prosecutor James McKay asked Acoff Howard on the eighth day of Balfour’s triple murder trial.

“Yes,” an uncomfortable looking Acoff Howard said.

Balfour, who was on parole for an attempted murder and carjacking, also made another call before his exchange with Acoff Howard that day, according to Wednesday’s court testimony.

Kenneth Drayton was on his way to meet Balfour at his mother’s South Side home when his cellphone went off.

“[Balfour] said he wouldn’t be able to make it. I asked him where he was at . . . . He said he was on the West Side of Chicago baby-sitting,” Balfour’s then-parole officer said.

Balfour was eventually arrested on the West Side that evening at a girlfriend’s house.

His Chrysler was found parked outside Robeson High School — less than a mile away from the Hudsons’ home where Donerson and Jason Hudson’s gunshot-riddled bodies were found.

Jason Hudson’s white Chevy Suburban, which prosecutors said Balfour stole, was discovered three days later with Julian’s body inside in the 1300 block of South Kolin.

On Wednesday, Illinois State Police evidence analyst Robert Berk testified that gunshot residue was found in Balfour’s car and the ceiling of the 1994 Suburban.

But Berk’s colleague said no traces of Balfour’s DNA turned up on the .45 caliber murder weapon.

When questioned by assistant state’s attorney Jennifer Bagby, however, Pauline Gordon said a lack of DNA does not mean a person never had contact with an object.

“Some people shed skin cells faster,” Gordon explained. “Gloves could have been worn.”

Bagby also asked if the environment could also degrade DNA.

“Yes,” Gordon said.

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