Photo Credit: John Shearer/WireImage; Cook County Sheriff's Department via WireImage
William Balfour has been convicted, and Jennifer Hudson's family can finally get some closure. On Friday, a jury found the singer's ex-brother-in-law guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 deaths of Jennifer's mother Darnell Donerson, brother Jason Hudson and 7-year-old nephew Julian King. Besides the three shootings, 31-year-old Balfour was found guilty of home invasion, burglary, kidnapping and possession of a stolen vehicle. Not surprisingly, he is facing life in prison.
In a statement, Jennifer and her sister Julia (Balfour's ex-wife and the mother of the youngest victim, Julian) thanked those who have supported them throughout the trial.
"We have many people to thank but our first thank you is to God, always," said the sisters, who went on to thank their attorneys, the police department and the State's witnesses. "We have felt the love and support from people all over the world and we're very grateful."
Graciously, Jennifer and Julia also acknowledged the suffering of the murderer's family.
"We want to extend a prayer from the Hudson family to the Balfour family," they wrote. "We have all suffered terrible loss in this tragedy. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that perish: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). It is our prayer that the Lord will forgive Mr. Balfour of these heinous acts and bring his heart into repentance someday."
Jennifer Hudson has been actively involved in the effort to bring her family's killer to justice, even testifying against him during the trial. Though her celebrity brought attention to the case, members of the jury say that it didn't impact their decision.
"This wasn't about her," juror Jacinta Gholston said following the trial. "It was a case about William Balfour. There was no discussion of Jennifer Hudson."
"Some of us tried to make him innocent," said another juror, Tracie Austin, of her attempt to give Balfour the benefit of the doubt. "We couldn't."
When the verdict was read, Hudson, seated in the fourth row next to fiance David Otunga, reportedly had tears "streaming down her cheeks." She then looked at her sister Julia and smiled.
"I hope she can put this thing behind her and get on with the rest of her life," said jury foreman Robert Smith.