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Jennifer Hudson bravely took the witness stand Monday to testify against William Balfour, the man charged with killing her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in 2008. Through tears, Hudson told the jury that she had never trusted Balfour, who used to be married to Jennifer's sister Julia.
"I told her over and over again to not marry him," said the 30-year-old singer-actress. "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."
Balfour, who pleaded not guilty, is accused of shooting the three family members in a jealous rage over a supposed other man in Julia's life. In her testimony, Jennifer described the moment she found out about the tragedy, after worrying something was wrong when her mother didn't reply to several phone messages.
"My sister called my fiance's phone," said Hudson. "I remember it like yesterday, obviously. And he couldn't understand what she was saying because she was so hysterical, and I grabbed the phone from him, and that's when she told me."
Jennifer's fiance David Otunga was in the courtroom to support her, taking notes during the trial. (The WWE wrestler is a former lawyer.)
Hudson also recalled her final visit with her whole family, just one week before the murders. The Oscar winner described how her family had surprised her by showing up at her house out of the blue.
"It was my mother, my brother, my sister and my dog. I was so surprised. The whole family is here," she remembered. "That was the last time I saw them. Thank God I had the opportunity."
The celebrity surprised the court by being called as the first witness; there was speculation as to whether she would testify at all. The tragedy devastated Hudson, who waited nearly four years to speak openly about it in an interview. In 2011, she launched the Julian D. King Gift Foundation on behalf of her late nephew.
Balfour faces charges of first-degree murder, home invasion, aggravated kidnapping, residential burglary and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. The trial is expected to last four weeks.