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Man convicted of killing Jennifer Hudson’s family seeks new trial, cites her fame

William Balfour

William Balfour

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Updated: July 24, 2012 8:44AM

A lawyer for the man convicted of murdering three members of actress Jennifer Hudson’s family filed a motion Friday for a new trial, citing in part the “prejudicial effect” on the jury she said Hudson’s testimony had.

“. . .The testimony was irrelevant, and because of the fame of the witness, the prejudicial effect of the testimony on the jury far outweighed any probative value that it would have,” says the 19-page motion from Amy Thompson, an assistant Cook County public defender.

Hudson was the first witness to testify against her former brother-in-law William Balfour at his high-profile triple-murder trial in April.

Hudson testified that she never liked Balfour, even when they were classmates at her Englewood grade school. The singer and Academy Award-winning actress also said she didn’t like the way he treated her sister, Julia, and vehemently opposed their marriage.

“None of us — myself, my mother or my brother — we did not like how he treated her, and I didn’t like how he treated my nephew,” Hudson testified, her voice wavering.

Balfour, 31, was convicted a few weeks later, in May, of killing Hudson’s 57-year-old mother, Darnell Donerson, her 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson, and her nephew, Julian King, 7, in October 2008.

Balfour, who was married to Julia Hudson, committed the murders out of jealousy that his then estranged wife had started dating another man, according to testimony that prosecutors presented.

In her court filing, Thompson also mentioned the lack of physical evidence tying Balfour to the crime scenes and said the judge didn’t give the defense enough time to prepare its case, noting that assistant state’s attorneys gave Balfour’s lawyers more than 2,000 pages of files and a six-hour videotape six months before the trial and tendered discovery about another potential suspect after the jury was selected.

The motion that was filed on Friday also touched on “improper and inflammatory” remarks made by the prosecution as the trial winded down. Assistant state’s attorney James McKay did say, “Calling the defendant a ‘dog’ is an insult to dogs” in his trademark fiery delivery during closing arguments.

Prosecutors and Balfour’s lawyers are expected to argue the defense’s motion on July 24 before Judge Charles Burns.

If the judge rejects the bid for a new trial, he could sentence Balfour that day.

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