- Last Updated: 8:58 AM, April 24, 2012
- Posted: 1:13 AM, April 24, 2012
CHICAGO — Shattered “Dreamgirls” star Jennifer Hudson yesterday took the stand to testify against the man who allegedly killed her mom, brother and 7-year-old nephew — weeping as she recalled the last time they were together.
It was at a party just five days before the brutal murders — the first time they had been to her new Chicago home, Hudson tearfully said.
“It was the entire family,” she said, crying. “My whole family.”
Hudson — the first witness to testify in the horrific case — said she and other relatives repeatedly tried to warn her sister, Julia, to get away from then-hubby William Balfour, who is accused of killing the innocent trio.
“I would tell Julia over and over again not to marry William,” the shattered singer and actress testified in the hushed Chicago courtroom.
“None of us — myself, my mother or my brother — we did not like how he treated her, and I didn’t like how he treated my nephew,” Hudson said.
She said she went to grade school years ago with Balfour and knew he was bad news even then.
“I tried to keep my distance from William,” Hudson said. “Where he was, I tried not to be.”
Balfour, 30, is charged with killing the three members of Hudson’s family in 2008 in the star’s childhood home. He allegedly flew into a jealous rage after Julia rejected him for another man.
Hudson, in a black dress with her hair up in a bun, began her testimony by recounting the warm memories of her family, particularly about her protective mother, who worried about her while she was on the road performing.
“Everytime I’d wake up, there’d be a text from my mom,” she said.
On the day of the murders, Hudson said, she was in Tampa visiting her fiancé.
She thought it was weird that she hadn’t heard from her mother.
“I looked for a text from my mom,” she said. “But there wasn’t anything. I kept sitting there, thinking: ‘That’s strange. My mom didn’t text me.’ ”
So she sent her mom a text, but “she didn’t text me back,” the Oscar winner said.
Prosecutors said Darnell Donerson, 57, was killed close to the time she would have sent the text.
Hudson wept as she recalled the desperate days looking for her missing nephew, Julian, her sister’s son from a previous relationship. The singer offered a $100,000 reward for his safe return.
“We tried everything, everything we could do, to get him back,” she said.
The boy’s body was found several days later, in the back seat of the SUV, with a gunshot wound to the head.
Hudson had to return from Tampa to identify the bodies.
Sources said prosecutors put her on the stand first so that she could sit in court in full view of the 12 jurors and six alternates after her testimony was over.
Hudson has vowed to be present in court every day of the trial, which could last for a month. Witnesses typically are not allowed to watch trials until they have testified.
After nearly 45 minutes on the stand, Hudson stepped down and grabbed several tissues before walking slowly across the courtroom directly in front of jurors.
She took a seat next to her fiancé, professional wrestler David Otunga, best known for his stint on VH1’s reality show “I Love New York.”
Hudson was followed on the stand by her sister, Julia, who had been out of the courtroom during her testimony.
Julia said her marriage started going downhill after she accompanied Hudson to Japan to film parts of “Dreamgirls,” the movie that earned Hudson an Academy Award and propelled her to superstardom.
After that, she said, Balfour became jealous — even of Julian.
“Julian couldn’t kiss me. He was very jealous of Julian,’’ she said. “He’d say, ‘Get off my wife.’ ”
Both sisters broke down when prosecutors played the heartbreaking 911 call.
“Somebody killed my mother!” Julia had screamed hysterically to the operator.
That was before she found out her brother was also dead — and her son missing.
Prosecutors say Balfour threatened more than two dozen times to kill Julia and her family in the months before the murders on Chicago’s South Side.
“You will be the last,” he allegedly told her. “I’ll kill your family first.”
He asked Julia if she slept with her new boyfriend after the pair separated. She told him she planned to do it on her birthday, Oct. 23, 2008.
A day after her birthday, Julia saw Balfour standing outside her bedroom window and let him in. He saw balloons that her new boyfriend had given her and lost his temper, court documents say.
Later that day, Julia and Jennifer’s mother and their brother, Jason Hudson, 29, were found dead.
In her argument, defense lawyer Amy Thompson painted Hudson’s brother, Jason, as a drug dealer and said the murders were the result of a drug-related hit.