Hudson Slayings: The Smoking Gun?

Does the lack of DNA on the murder weapon mean that William Balfour will walk? An expert weighs in.

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Cook County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images

For years it has been alleged that William Balfour shot and killed three members of Jennifer Hudson's family in a vengeful rage after her sister, Julia, rebuffed his advances to reconcile their marriage.

So when his trial began on April 23, it came as no surprise when prosecutors mapped out their case against him. They alleged that he used a stolen 45-caliber Sig Sauer automatic weapon to gun down the star's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, and brother, Jason Hudson, 29, in their nine-bedroom home on Chicago's South Side. He then stole the keys to Jason's white SUV and took her nephew, Julian King, 7, who was found dead days later.

But what did come as a surprise was the lack of physical evidence linking Balfour to the crimes. During a dramatic opening argument, Cook County Assistant Public Defender Amy Thompson stated that Balfour's DNA was not found on the gun or inside the white SUV where Julian's body was found. "He was excluded from the SUV DNA test," she said.

She said that the only reason Balfour is on trial is that the Chicago Police Department worked quickly to apprehend a suspect. They knew the case would garner a lot of media attention because of Jennifer Hudson's celebrity status, she said.

"They had to find their man, and they had to find him quickly," she told the racially diverse jury. But they got the wrong man in their haste, she said. She told jurors that they would find Balfour innocent. He has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in the October 2008 killings.

A Problem for the Prosecution?

Well-known Chicago criminal-defense attorney Joseph W. Lopez agrees with Thompson on a possible acquittal, he told The Root when asked about Balfour being excluded from DNA evidence in the case.

"I would think he should get off if the scientific evidence doesn't match the suspect," Lopez said. "I think they [prosecutors] have a problem if the jurors don't rule with emotion and they look at the evidence that's in the courtroom."

Lopez, who is known for representing alleged mobsters and has won all three of his most recent jury trials, including two for murder, also voiced concern about witness testimony in the trial, calling what he's heard so far "hearsay." He says he has been reading and watching news coverage of the case because he finds it interesting.

"What they've produced so far is a bunch of hearsay nonsense," he said. "Hearsay is rumor. You can't convict people on rumors."