A jury of 12 people and six alternates has been selected in the trial of William Balfour on charges he killed three members of singer and actress Jennifer Hudson's family, setting the stage for opening statements later this month.
Beginning Monday, Judge Charles Burns and lawyers for the prosecution and defense questioned prospective jurors individually about their personal backgrounds, what they knew of Hudson's career and whether they followed media coverage of the 2008 murders.
The final four panelists selected Tuesday include: a young man from the South Side who has been an instructor for the Jessie White Tumblers; a North Side woman in her 20s who works as a data analyst for a health services company; a middle-aged woman from the Southeast Side whose son was paralyzed in a 2002 shooting; and a woman in her 40s from the Near North Side who works as a courier for FedEx.
The jury of 10 women and eight men is a racially mixed group from many different walks of life. Burns has not said which of the six would serve as alternates.
Opening statements are scheduled to take place on April 23. The delay resulted from a prior commitment of the judge. Burns warned jurors to avoid any media coverage of the case or Hudson. He specifically cited an expected appearance by Hudson on an episode of "American Idol."
"I am told that one of the witnesses in this case may be appearing on television Thursday night," Burns said in a clear reference to Hudson.
Among those dismissed Tuesday was a woman who writes an entertainment and food column for a northwest Indiana newspaper who said she'd written previously about Hudson's career. Also let go was a woman who said a family member knew Hudson's sister, Julia, who was married to Balfour, as well as a man who said he was a news junkie and knew a lot about the case against Balfour.
The trial is expected to take up to a month. Balfour, who was estranged from Julia Hudson at the time of the 2008 murders, is accused of fatally shooting Jennifer Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, brother Jason Hudson and nephew, Julian King, 7.
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