William Balfour was in a "panic" the day three of Jennifer Hudson's family members were found slain, a prosecution's witness said Monday.
Quincy Brown told those in the Chicago courtroom that Balfour called on Oct. 24, 2008 to say he was having car problems. Balfour sounded nervous on the phone, he said, and wouldn't let Brown move the car to look at it. He said Balfour told him not to speak to police if they came around.
Investigators found the auto less than a mile from the house where the bodies of Hudson's mother and brother were found.
Balfour, 30, has pleaded not guilty to charges he killed Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson; brother, Jason Hudson; and nephew, Julian King.
But Brown, who is in prison on a federal gun conviction, testified that he saw Balfour with the gun authorities say was used in the slayings. Brown said he met Balfour the summer before the murders and saw him with the .45 caliber weapon when they were playing cards with friends. Brown also said he saw the gun in Balfour's Chrysler when the men exchanged cars for a day.
Under questioning by assistant public defender Amy Thompson, Brown said he shot the gun in the air before getting behind the wheel of Balfour's car. Forensic investigators have testified the steering wheel cover in that car tested positive for gunshot residue.
Brown also said Balfour told him his ex-wife was accusing him of the crimes. Brown said he asked Balfour if he killed the pair. He said Balfour answered, "It's bigger than me."
The suggestion that others may be involved in the crime is an important strategy for the defense, a jury expert said.
"All it takes is one juror to say, 'You know what, there was these dealings going on there, he's an unsavory character, some of the Hudson family members might have been unsavory characters, so I don't know, I feel like they didn't show that it was certainly William Balfour beyond a reasonable doubt. I have doubt, so I'm not going to vote to convict,'" Alan Turkheimer explained.
Throughout the trail, Balfour's attorneys have laid the groundwork for a case that Jennifer Hudson's brother, Jason, was a drug dealer and he also had enemies who could have committed these crimes.
Balfour was arrested at a girlfriend's house and told detectives he'd taken the train there. Prosecutors likely will call those detectives to the stand along with an expert expected to tell the court that Balfour's Chicago Transit Authority card was not used that day as he claimed.
This comes after a week of damaging testimony of state's witnesses saying they saw Balfour with the murder weapon, that he told a friend he was going to kill Julia Hudson's family and that he asked a girlfriend to lie for him about where he was Oct. 24, 2008.
The trial is now in its third week of testimony, and Judge Charles Burns indicated that closing arguments may be delivered Wednesday. That suggests the defense may not mount a case.
A recap of trial coverage so far:
- Day 9: Witness: Hudson Had One Enemy, "That Cat" Balfour
- Day 8: Balfour DNA Not Found on Murder Weapon: Expert
- Day 8: Judge Bars Phones in Court
- Day 7: Neighbor Says Balfour Threatened Julia Hudson
- Day 7: Court Denies Jennifer Hudson Is Getting Star Treatment
- Day 6: Police Testify at Hudson Trial About Finding Gun
- Day 6: "Somebody Killed My Mother:" Hudson 911 Tape Released to Media
- Day 5: Balfour Girlfriend Says He Confessed to Killing Hudson Family Members
- Day 4: Witness: Balfour Repeatedly Threatened Hudson Family
- Day 3: Prosecutors Show Photos of Hudson's Slain Nephew
- Day 2: Cops Describe Finding Slain Hudson Family Members
- Day 1: Jennifer Hudson Breaks Down During Murder Trial