CHICAGO (Reuters) - Grammy and Oscar winning singer and actress Jennifer Hudson testified on Monday that she had known the man accused of killing three members of her family since middle school but never liked him.
Hudson was the first witness called at the start of the murder trial of William Balfour, who is charged with killing Hudson's mother, brother and nephew. Even when Balfour attended the same school as Hudson, the singer said, she disliked him.
Balfour, at one time married to Hudson's sister Julia, never treated her sister well, Hudson testified. "I would tell her (Julia) over and over again not to marry William," she said.
Balfour, 30, is accused of shooting dead Hudson's mother Darnell Donerson, 57, her brother Jason Hudson, 29, and her nephew Julian King, 7.
Hudson testified about the harrowing day she learned of the deaths, flying home to Chicago on October 24, 2008, and identifying her mother and brother's bodies at the morgue. Three days later she was back at the morgue to identify her nephew's body.
Before Hudson moved out in 2006, the family had lived together in the same house in Chicago where the bodies of her mother and brother were found. Julian King's body was found later in a stolen SUV.
In opening arguments at the trial, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Veryl Gambino said Balfour made "deadly warnings" to Julia Hudson that he would kill her and the Hudson family.
Prosecutors described Balfour as a jealous and vindictive man, who repeatedly threatened Julia Hudson.
"Julia, if you leave me, I'll kill you. I'll kill your family first and then I'll kill you. You'll be the last to die," Gambino quoted Balfour as saying.
"These weren't just words. They weren't just threats. They were deadly warnings of what was to come," Gambino said.
Jennifer Hudson burst onto the music scene in 2004 when she sang on the TV singing contest "American Idol". She subsequently won a Grammy for her debut album, and she won an Academy Award for her role in the movie "Dreamgirls."
The trial has brought a swarm of national media to the Cook County criminal courthouse.
(Writing by Greg McCune; editing by Mohammad Zargham)