The first witness took the stand Monday and introduced herself to the jury: “My name is Jennifer Kate Hudson. I’m an actress and a singer.”
With that, the Oscar-winner set the stage for the prosecution in its case against her former brother-in-law, William Balfour, charged with fatally shooting her mother, brother and nephew in 2008.
Her voice cracking with emotion, Hudson, 30, told the Chicago jury that she had warned her sister Julia against marrying Balfour.
“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.
Now crying, Hudson stopped for a moment and composed herself.
Balfour, who was estranged from Julia at the time of the killing, is accused of committing the murders while allegedly in a jealous rage over what he thought was another man in Julia’s life.
Balfour has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer has said there is no forensic evidence tying him to the murders.
The morning the bodies were found, Hudson awoke in Tampa, Fla., with her fiancé and knew something was wrong when her mother had not sent her a text and then didn’t reply to a message.
Later that morning, she said, “My sister called my fiancé’s phone. I remember it like yesterday, obviously. And he couldn’t understand what she was saying because she was so hysterical, and I grabbed the phone from him, and that’s when she told me.”
Watching her testimony was her fiancé David Otunga, a WWE wrestler with whom Hudson has a 2-year-old son, David Jr. Otunga wrote notes in a small black notebook while surrounded by about two dozen Hudson family members and friends who entered and left the courtroom together.
• Additional reporting by JEFF TRUESDELL