Jury Reaches Verdict in Hudson Family Slayings

Jury Reaches Verdict In Hudson Family Slayings

CHICAGO (AP) — Jurors have reached a verdict in the trial of the man charged with murdering three of Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson's family members, Chicago court officials announced Friday afternoon.

The verdict is scheduled to be read at 4:30 p.m. CDT. Jurors deliberated for three days in the case of Hudson's former brother-in-law, William Balfour. He's charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the October 2008 shooting deaths of Hudson's mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.

Hudson was the first witness called and has attended every day of testimony in the trial. She is expected to be on hand when the verdict is read.

Balfour would face a mandatory life prison sentence if convicted on all counts.

Prosecutors say he killed the three victims in a jealous rage after his then-estranged wife, Hudson's sister Julia Hudson, refused to reconcile with him. Defense attorneys argued the evidence tying Balfour to the October 2008 killings is circumstantial.

The announcement about the verdict came after jurors sent the judge a note saying they were split on the verdict. The jury did not say it was giving up, though.

"We are trying," jurors said in their note.

With no surviving witnesses to the Oct. 24, 2008, slayings, prosecutors built a circumstantial case against Balfour by calling 83 witnesses over 11 days of testimony. Witnesses said he threatened to kill the entire family if Julia Hudson spurned him.

Balfour's attorneys proposed an alternate theory: that someone else in the crime-ridden neighborhood on Chicago's South Side targeted the family because of alleged crack-cocaine dealing by Jennifer Hudson's brother, Jason Hudson. During the 30 minutes in which they called just two witnesses, however, they presented no evidence to support that theory.

The killings occurred the morning after Julia Hudson's birthday, and prosecutors said he became enraged when he stopped by the home and saw a gift of balloons in the house from her new boyfriend.

After his estranged wife left for her job as a bus driver on the morning of Oct. 24, 2008, prosecutors say Balfour went back inside the home with a .45-caliber handgun and shot Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in the back; he allegedly then shot Jason Hudson, 29, twice in the head as he lay in bed.

Prosecutors say Balfour then drove off in Jason Hudson's SUV with Julia's son, Julian King, and shot the boy several times in the head as he lay behind a front seat. His body was found in the abandoned vehicle miles away after a three-day search.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Carlos Osorio/AP

Man Exonerated After Serving 45 Years Forced To Sell Prison Artwork For Money

A Detroit man who served 45 years behind bars for a crime that he didn’t commit, is forced to sell his personal collection of artwork that he made in prison. Richard Phillips, 72, doesn’t have steady income at the moment, and his lawyer is currently battling the state of Michigan to get him compensated for the wrongful conviction that stole his freedom.

"I don't have an income right now," said Phillips while showing off his paintings to Fox 2 Detroit. "This is my income."

In the early 1970s, Phillips was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Gregory Harris. He was sentenced to life in prison but always maintained his innocence. “I would rather died in prison than admit to a crime I didn’t do,” Philips said.

Phillips was convicted through an eyewitness account implicating him and a second man, Richard Palombo. In 2010, Palombo admitted that Phillips had no involvement in the murder and that he didn’t even know him. A new investigation was launched in 2014, nearly 20 years later Phillips appealed his murder conviction.

Last March, Wayne County Prosecutors Kym Worthy dropped all charges against Phillips, officially freeing him from prison. “There’s nothing that I can say to bring back 40 years of his life. The system failed him. There’s no question about it,” Worthy said at the time. “This is a true exoneration. Justice is indeed being done today, but there’s nothing that we can do ... to bring back those years of his life.”

Art played a big part in helping maintain his sanity through the sentence. Though he remained optimistic, Phillips admitted that he never truly believed he would be released. To pass the time, he began painting. He pulled inspiration from everywhere: his favorite artists, photos and even tapped into some of the loneliness that he felt in prison. "It was created in a harsh environment. But it goes to show you that beauty can come from something ugly."

Last year, Detroit's Demond Ricks was awarded $1 million for spending 25 years in prison on a wrongful conviction. As it stands, Phillips is the longest-serving wrongfully convicted former prisoner in U.S. history.

Phillips' artwork will be on display at Michigan's Ferndale's Level One gallery beginning Jan. 18.

See more on his artwork in the video below.

Continue Reading
Getty Images

Gladys Knight Defends Decision To Perform National Anthem At Super Bowl Amid Criticism

Glad Knight says she wants to “give the National Anthem back its voice.” The music legend released a new statement defending her decision to sing  the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in Atlanta, next month, amid criticism from fans.

Several artists turned down offers to perform at the Super Bowl in protest of the league’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick. Knight clarified that her choice to sing has nothing to do with Kaepernick, and she doesn't exactly agree with the anthem being "dragged into the debate."

"I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight said in a statement to Variety. “It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”

The 74-year-old singer also noted that she has been on the forefront of social justice issues for much of her career. "I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words,” Knight said. “The way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good.

"No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it,” she continued. “I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us."

Knight isn’t alone in catching heat for joining the Super Bowl lineup. Travis Scott and Big Boi, both of whom will perform with Maroon 5 at halftime, received backlash as well.

Earlier in the week, reports surfaced claiming Scott had a meeting with Kaepernick that ended with “mutual respect” and “understanding.” Kaepernick’s girlfriend and Hot 97 DJ, Nessa Diab, denied the report tweeting, “There is NO mutual respect and there is NO understanding for anyone working against @Kaepernick7 PERIOD. #stoplying.”

Continue Reading
Getty Images

Wendy Williams Postpones Show Return Due To “Complications” From Graves’ Disease

Wendy Williams is promising to get back to The Wendy Williams Show by the end of January, after delaying her return two previous times.

Williams announced another extended hiatus from her talk show as she continues recovering from a shoulder injury and recent “complications” brought on by Graves' disease, according to a statement posted to the show’s Instagram account Friday (Jan. 18).

“Over the past few days, Wendy has experienced complications regarding her Graves’ Disease that will require treatment,” reads the statement. “Wendy will be under the strict supervision of her physicians, and as part of her care, there will be significant time spent in the hospital. Despite her strong desire to return, she is taking a necessary, extended break from her show to focus on her personal and physical well-being.

“Wendy thanks everyone in advance for their well-wishes and for respecting her and The Hunter Family's privacy during this time.”

The statement included a message of support from Debmar-Mercury, the company that syndicates The Wendy Williams Show. “We wholeheartedly support Wendy in this decision to take the time she needs and we will welcome her back with open arms the moment she is ready.”

Williams will return with new episodes the week of Jan. 28.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A Note from The Hunter Family As Wendy Williams Hunter previously shared, she fractured her shoulder and has been on the mend. Over the past few days, Wendy has experienced complications regarding her Graves’ Disease that will require treatment. Wendy will be under the strict supervision of her physicians, and as part of her care, there will be significant time spent in the hospital. Despite her strong desire to return, she is taking a necessary, extended break from her show to focus on her personal and physical well-being. Wendy thanks everyone in advance for their well-wishes and for respecting her and The Hunter Family's privacy during this time. Statement from Debmar-Mercury For over ten years, Wendy has been a vital part of the Debmar-Mercury family. We wholeheartedly support Wendy in this decision to take the time she needs and we will welcome her back with open arms the moment she is ready. The Wendy Williams Show will air repeat episodes the week of January 21st and will produce original episodes with a variety of hosts starting the week of January 28th.

A post shared by Wendy Williams (@wendyshow) on Jan 18, 2019 at 9:34am PST

Continue Reading

Top Stories