Man questioned in Hudson case to stay in prison

William Belfour
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JOLIET, Ill. – A parole review official on Monday refused to release the convicted felon questioned in the killings of Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew, after a witness reported seeing him with a gun similar to the one used in the slayings.

A 35-minute hearing ended with a decision that there is probable cause to believe that William Balfour, Hudson's estranged brother-in-law, violated parole and should be held until a Dec. 3 hearing before the full Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

Balfour has been questioned, but not charged, in the killings. Authorities have called him a "person of interest."

During Monday's hearing by a member of the review board, Balfour denied any involvement in the crime, including the allegations that he had been seen with a gun.

"He seemed to be disturbed. He contested those allegations" about the gun, Board Chairman Jorge Montes said after the hearing. "He was protesting the introduction of that evidence and he denied it."

Balfour, 27, has been in custody since the day the bodies of Hudson's mother and brother were discovered at the family's Chicago home. After 48 hours — the longest Chicago police can hold anyone without charges — he was taken by the Illinois Department of Corrections on a parole violation.

Balfour — the estranged husband of Jennifer Hudson's older sister, Julia Hudson — served seven years for a 1999 attempted murder and vehicular hijacking conviction.

Jeanetta Cardine, an executive with the prisoner review board, was told during Monday's hearing that a woman described as Balfour's current or former girlfriend has told investigators she saw him with a gun matching the description of the .45-caliber weapon used in the three killings.

While Cardine found probable cause to believe Balfour violated other conditions of his parole, including failing to get anger management and substance abuse counseling, Montes said the gun allegation alone was enough to keep the man in custody.

"That's a very serious allegation," Montes said. "If somebody's alleging they saw him with a gun that was used in the murder of three individuals, we would definitely hold" him.

Montes said the information about the woman's statements came from the Cook County State's Attorney's office.

Representatives of the state's attorney's office and the police department declined to comment.

The bodies of 57-year-old Darnell Donerson and 29-year-old Jason Hudson were discovered Oct. 24 at the family's home. Three days later, 7-year-old Julian King's body was found in a sport utility vehicle on the city's West Side.

Officers found the gun in a vacant lot in the neighborhood where Julian's body was found.

Balfour did not have an attorney at Monday's hearing; the Cook County Public Defender's office said he has not been assigned one because he hasn't been charged with a crime.