Actress Jennifer Hudson cried softly as her former brother-in-law was convicted today of murdering her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.
Hudson bowed her head as jurors entered the courtroom around 4:40 p.m. The Academy Award-winning actress, who attended each day of the trial, leaned forward when the verdict was read and softly wept as her fiancé comforted her and family members squeezed her shoulders.
When jurors walked out of the courtroom, Hudson stood on tiptoe to watch them.
William Balfour was found guilty on all counts of murder, home invasion, armed robbery and kidnapping and faces mandatory life in prison. He showed no emotion when the verdict was announced, but his family cried.
While jurors were split 9-3 on a verdict just hours before it was announced, they said afterward that deliberations were cordial and some of them simply wanted more information before deciding on conviction.
"Some people were able to piece it together faster than others," said juror Paula Halcomb.
Jacinta Gholston, who was one of those not convinced of guilt, said there were many "holes" in the timeline that she wanted to see filled before she would vote to convict.
"There were three of us who just needed to see the picture a little clearer," she said.
Jurors said Balfour's cellphone records were a key piece of evidence, allowing the jury to piece the timeline together and, in Halcomb's words, figure out that “he could not be in two places at once.”
Several of the jurors said Hudson's celebrity didn't influence their deliberations.
"She was a celebrity, we understood that. But it wasn't about her," said Gholston. "This was not for us the Jennifer Hudson Case. It was the People of Illinois vs. William Balfour."
Juror Tracie Austin said Hudson's testimony didn't play a big part in her decision because Hudson “didn't say anything” that was crucial to the case.
Balfour's attorney, Amy Thompson, said she would file a motion for a new trial on June 8 and would be preparing an appeal as well. "There are very strong issues of law," she said. "We do have hope. . .It has always been our position and it still is that William Balfour is innocent of these murders.”
But Thompson said she also didn't think Hudson's celebrity had any impact on verdict. "I think the jury was paying attention. They didn't seem too interested in the coming and goings of people in the courtroom, including Miss Hudson," she said.
Jennifer Hudson and her sister Julia Hudson released a statement Friday night thanking the police, prosecutors and witnesses, along with everyone who offered support.
"We have felt the love and support from people all over the world and we’re very grateful," according to the statement.
"We want to extend a prayer from the Hudson family to the Balfour family. We have all suffered terrible loss in this tragedy," they said. "It is our prayer that the Lord will forgive Mr. Balfour of these heinous acts and bring his heart into repentance someday.”
State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said the evidence in the case, though largely circumstantial, was "overwhelmingly." She noted that there were 80 prosecution witnesses and more than 500 pieces of evidence entered.
"There was never a rush to judgment," Alvarez said. "We are very, very happy with the verdict in this case."