Jurors deliberating the fate of William Balfour -- the man charged with murdering Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew -- informed the judge Friday afternoon that they had reached a verdict.
The Oscar winner held fiancé David Otunga close in the Chicago courtroom as Cook County jurors announced guilty verdicts following hours of deliberation over three days. In addition to the murders, Balfour was also convicted of home invasion, aggravated kidnapping, residential burglary and possession of a stolen motor vehicle for the 2008 crimes. He now faces mandatory life in prison.
"We have many people to thank, but our first thank you is to God," said Jennifer and sister Julia in a joint statement shortly after, also thanking their legal team for their tireless efforts.
"We want to extend a prayer from the Hudson family to the Balfour family," the sisters add. "We have all suffered terrible loss in this tragedy. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that perish: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them (2 Corinthian 4:3-4). It is our prayer that the Lord will forgive Mr. Balfour of these heinous acts and bring his heart into repentance someday."
Earlier Friday, jurors sent the judge a note indicating that they were having trouble reaching a unanimous verdict, but they pledged to keep trying to avoid a permanent deadlock. During its final day of deliberations, the jury also requested transcripts from an FBI cell phone expert's testimony as well as video of Balfour's post-arrest interrogation.
The decision comes after a two-and-a-half-week trial in which Hudson took the stand as the first witness and gave emotional testimony against Balfour. During her testimony, Hudson fought back tears as she told jurors how she always disliked Balfour and was distraught when her sister told her she planned to marry him.
The defense told jurors during closing arguments that prosecutors had failed to prove their case and were asking the jury to "throw logic away." Prosecutors countered that they had presented "overwhelming circumstantial evidence" that Balfour was the killer and they showed jurors photos of the victims' bloody bodies next to pictures of them alive.
Balfour, 31, pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in the October 2008 slayings. Prosecutors allege the suspect shot the family members in a jealous rage because Jennifer's sister Julia broke up with him and began dating another man.