Opening statements set in trial of man accused of killing Hudson relatives

By the CNN Wire Staff

CHICAGO (CNN) — Opening statements are set for Monday in the trial of a man accused of killing relatives of actress and singer Jennifer Hudson.

Last week, 18 people were selected to serve on the jury in the murder trial.

The group includes 10 women and eight men, including six alternates. The jury will be sequestered during the trial, Judge Charles Burns has said.

The trial comes more than three years after Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew were killed.

William Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson’s sister Julia, is accused of fatally shooting Hudson’s mother and brother inside their Chicago home in October 2008. The body of Hudson’s 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, was found three days later inside an abandoned vehicle.

Balfour, who was Julian’s stepfather, has also been charged with one count of home invasion.

The judge has said he expects the trial to last three to four weeks.

Balfour was detained for questioning the day after the victims were found at the Chicago home. Authorities at the time said that they were holding Balfour for an unspecified parole violation, but he ended up being indicted for murder two months later.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his lawyer has said in court there is no forensic evidence linking him to the killings.

Prosecutors have portrayed Balfour as a jealous man who murdered three people in rage at the thought that his wife had a boyfriend.

The deaths took place a year after Hudson, who rose to fame as a contestant on “American Idol,” won an Oscar for her role in the movie “Dreamgirls.”

In a recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, Hudson reflected on the life of her mother, Darnell Donerson.

“My mother was a very wise and strong person. I feel like she raised us well, and she prepared me well, and so that’s what I live by,” she said.

Hudson, who is on the witness list, is expected to attend the upcoming trial.

Her career has continued to blossom and remain varied since her relatives’ deaths. Her recent milestones include penning a memoir detailing her struggles with her weight, being cast to play Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie in an upcoming movie, releasing a new album and singing a well-received tribute to Whitney Houston at the most recent Grammy Awards show in February.

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