Jennifer Hudson testifies in family murder trial
Jennifer Hudson in a courtroom sketch during her testimony in the case of William Balfour (Reuters)
Jennifer Hudson broke down in tears on Monday as she testified against the man accused of murdering her mother, brother and nephew in a brutal slaying spree in 2008.
The trial of William Balfour, the estranged husband of the singer/actress' sister Julia, began in Chicago, Illinois this week and prosecutors got straight down to business, calling Hudson to the stand to give evidence.
During the Dreamgirls star's testimony, she recalled how she had warned Julia against exchanging vows with Balfour, telling the court, "I told her over and over again to not marry him. We did not like how he treated her."
But Hudson, who was supported in court by her fiance, wrestler David Otunga, struggled to maintain her composure when she was asked about her close relationship with her mum Darnell, and she cried as she revealed they would phone each other "every single day".
The tears continued to stream down her face as she remembered the last time she saw her family together, when they made an unexpected visit to her Chicago home.
Her voice trembling, she said, "It was my mother, my brother, my sister and my dog. I was so surprised. The whole family is here. That was the last time I saw them. Thank God I had the opportunity."
At one point, the judge presiding over the case halted proceedings to ask Hudson if she was OK, before continuing with her testimony.
The bodies of Hudson's 57-year-old mother and brother Jason, 29, were discovered in the family's Chicago home and her nephew Julian King's body was found three days later in an abandoned SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle).
Balfour has pleaded not guilty to a string of charges, including first-degree murder, home invasion and aggravated kidnapping.
The trial, which is taking place in the courtroom where R&B singer R Kelly was acquitted on child pornography charges in 2008, is expected to last four weeks.
Balfour faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted.