Prospective jurors let out loud gasps on Thursday when they discovered that they may be selected for the trial of William Balfour (pictured), the man who stands accused of murdering the family members of R&B singer Jennifer Hudson, reports the Chicago Tribune.
After announcing the trial and reading the indictment for “People v. Balfour,” Judge Charles Burns asked if anyone would be unable to judge the case fairly without bias and 20 people stood up.
Balfour, 30, was arrested for the October 24, 2008 slayings of Hudson’s mother, Darnell, 57 (pictured bottom left), her older brother, Jason, 29, and her 7-year-old nephew, Julian (pictured bottom right). All three victims were shot to death. The Oscar-winning Hudson, whose father had passed away when she was a teen, described herself as extremely close to her family.
When the shootings occurred, Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson’s sister Julia, was on parole after spending nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possession of a stolen vehicle. Prosecutors speculate that Balfour brutally killed the family members in a fit of jealousy because Julia had been seeing another man.
In order to ensure that trial is not a media circus, jury names will remain under wraps until after the verdict in an effort to keep reporters or others from trying to contact them during the trial.
The judge also warned the potential jurors that they should refrain from engaging in any of the social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. He advised them that they should avoid reading, listening to or watching the news, and not surf the Internet under any circumstances. Reporters are also barred from tweeting or posting messages on their Facebook page while inside the courtroom.
The opening statements in Balfour’s trial are scheduled for April 23 when he will face charges of murder.