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Trial Begins For Accused Killer of Jennifer Hudson’s family

Balloons. Prosecutors in the Hudson family murder case contend this is what motivated William Balfour, estranged husband of Julia Hudson, to murder three of her family members in October 2008.

Prosecutors plan to argue that Balfour, now 30, believed a gift of balloons was from Julia Hudson’s new boyfriend and it sent him into a vindictive rage that led to the murder of Academy Award-winning Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew.

Balfour, charged with three counts of first-degree murder, faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted of at least two counts of murder.

Just three months after the slayings, Jennifer Hudson, the 2004 American Idol finalist and 2007 Academy Award winner for her role in Dreamgirls, appeared in public singing the Star Spangled Banner at Super Bowl XLIII.

Now, four years after the murders, it appears Hudson has made a full recovery. She has been a ubiquitous media presence and has become a spokesperson for Weight Watchers.

According to the Associated Press, Hudson is expected to attend every day of the trial, which is scheduled to last at least one month.

Authorities say around 9 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 24, 2008, Balfour went inside the three-story Chicago home and used a .45 caliber gun to kill Hudson’s mother, 57-year-old Darnell Donnerson. He later walked into the bedroom of 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson, and shot him twice in the head. Balfour allegedly then drove off in Jason Hudson’s SUV with 7-year-old Julian King, the son of Julia Hudson, now 34, and shot him in the head as he lay behind the front seat, according to authorities. Julian, nicknamed “Juicebox,” was discovered in the abandoned vehicle after a three-day search for the missing boy.

Prosecutors have also compiled a list of witnesses totaling 300 people who could be subpoenaed to testify in court against Balfour. Jennifer Hudson is one of these witnesses, though it is not clear whether she will testify.

Sitting in a decorated courtroom that has been used for several television dramas, Hudson will relive the memories of the murder of her family members. After recounting her feelings regarding the family tragedy in an interview with NBC Dateline’s Lester Holt, she revealed that her now-husband, David Otunga saved her life with one phone call.

“I remember it like yesterday. And I was literally picking up my bags to walk out the door to go to my mother’s house. And [fiance David Ortunga] called me, like, ‘Can you come out here instead of going, you know?’ And I was like, ‘OK, sure.’ And that one decision, that one thing, I wouldn’t be sitting here,” Hudson said.

Fighting tears in the Dateline interview, she spoke about of the work her foundation, the Julian D. King Foundation, does to help families of violence.

Hudson, who rarely talks about the horrific family murders, will now have to face the memories of that day in court during the trial of her family’s murderer. After making such a remarkable recovery, will the trial set back her recovery—or will it serve to bring her more peace?

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