Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson broke down in tears Monday while testifying at the trial of the man accused of killing her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in a jealous rage four years ago.
Hudson was the first witness called after prosecutors and attorneys for William Balfour finished their opening statements. During her brief but emotional testimony, she told jurors her family didn't want her sister to marry Balfour.
The singer and actress at first seemed composed as a prosecutor began asking her questions. But the testimony became increasingly difficult, and she began crying when talking about seeing her family the Sunday before the killings.
Her voice also broke as she described her reaction when her sister, Julia Hudson, told her she was going to marry Balfour.
"None of us wanted her to marry him," she said, her voice cracking and struggling to hold back tears. "We did not like how he treated her," she said.
Balfour has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in the October 2008 slayings.
Early on during Hudson's testimony, a prosecutor asked her to identify the defendant. Hudson pointed at Balfour.
"He's sitting right there," she said.
A former federal prosecutor said prosecutors were shrewd to call Jennifer Hudson as their first witness.
"It rivets the jury," said Phil Turner, a Chicago attorney. "For better or worse it increases the importance of the case in jurors' minds."
Witnesses typically are not allowed to watch trials until they have testified.
Hudson, watching from a fourth-row bench Monday afternoon, bowed her head and dabbed away tears as prosecutors played a recording of the 911 call her sister made after discovering their mother's bloodied body.
"Oh my God, oh my God," Julia Hudson is heard yelling at a dispatcher, who tells her to stop screaming because he can't understand her. "My momma, my momma!"
Earlier, Julia Hudson testified that her ex-husband was so prone to jealousy, he even became angry when her son, Julian King, kissed her.
The couple's divorce was finalized last year.
The killings happened the day after Julia Hudson's birthday.
Prosecutors say Balfour used a .45-caliber handgun to kill Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, and then shot her brother, Jason Hudson, 29, in the head as he lay in bed.
He allegedly drove off with Julian. Authorities say he shot the boy in the head as he lay behind a front seat.