The murder trial of William Balfour, who is accused of killing Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew, has begun on Monday, April 23, and the singer/actress was surprisingly the first witness called to testify. The "American Idol" alum took to the stand after the opening statements from a prosecutor and defense attorney for her former brother-in-law.
While she didn't speak of the shootings themselves, the "Think Like a Man" crooner revealed that she had repeatedly told her sister Julia not to marry Balfour. Wearing a simple all-black dress and little makeup, she said with a trembling voice, "I told her over and over again to not marry him. We did not like how he treated her."
Having told the court that she "talked to her [mother] every single day," the "Where You At" singer recalled the day of her murder, "I noticed that - I'm looking to see the text from my mom, and it wasn't any." She went on to share in a soft voice, "I kept sitting there wondering, 'Like that's strange.' That was the first thing I said, 'My mom didn't text me.' "
Jennifer was also asked if she was ever friends with Balfour, whom she knew from junior high school. Firm in her reply, the 30-year-old singer who won an Oscar for her role in "Dreamgirls" said, "Never." She added, "I tried to keep my distance from William Balfour." At one point of her more than 30 minutes on the stand, she broke down, but regained her composure after taking a moment to dab her tears.
Later in the day, Jennifer's sister Julia took turn testifying. She revealed that Balfour had made deathly threats against her and her family over two dozen times following their February 2008 separation. She claimed that Balfour told her after she refused to reconcile with him, "If you leave me, you will be the last to die. I'm going to kill your family first."
During her testimony, Julia described Balfour as a jealous man. She said that he was even jealous of her 7-year-old son, Julian, recalling that he wouldn't let the boy hug or kiss her after she returned from a "Dreamgirls" promotional trip to Japan with Jennifer. "He would say, 'that is my wife, get off of my wife,' " she said.
Balfour is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of 57-year-old Darnell Donerson, 29-year-old Jason Hudson and 7-year-old Julian King. He is also charged with home invasion, aggravated kidnapping, residential burglary and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. He has claimed innocence to all charges. If convicted, he would face a mandatory life sentence.