For Hudson Jurors, Cell Phone Forensics Were Key

Friday morning 9-3 split leaning to guilt was resolved hours later

By BJ Lutz and Michael Tarm
|  Saturday, May 12, 2012  |  Updated 12:39 AM EDT
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Ten jurors chose to reveal themselves to the media after they returned a verdict in the case against William Balfour.

Ten jurors chose to reveal themselves to the media after they returned a verdict in the case against William Balfour.

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Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez speaks to the media after the jury returns a guilty verdict on all counts in connection with the slaying of Jennifer Hudson's family members.

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It all came down to cell phone records.

With a mountain of circumstantial evidence to consider, the twelve jurors who convicted William Balfour on Friday said they needed to understand the chain of events in order to see the case more clearly. They were able to do that, they said, with testimony from a forensic investigator who helped triangulate the location of Balfour's phone on the morning that Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson's mother and brother were found slain.

"Once we were able to piece the timing together, where we realized that he could not be at two places at one time... We were able to put a timeline together," said juror Paula Holcomb "At such and such a time he was here, at such and such a time he was here, at such and such a time the phone was no where on the radar."

Jurors deliberated for three days before reaching their verdict against Balfour, a former gang member who was the estranged husband of Hudson's sister at the time of the murders.

Just an hour before their unanimous verdict on all counts, they sent a note to the judge that three jurors still weren't fully convinced of his guilt.

"There were three of us who just needed to see the picture a little clearer," said juror Jacinta Gholston.

Jurors told reporters afterward that their deliberations were thorough and cordial, and that Jennifer Hudson's celebrity didn't influence them.

"This wasn't a case about Jennifer Hudson for us," said Gholston. "This was a case about William Balfour, and so for us her celebrity really had nothing to do with it. It's unfortunate that it was her family, but this was not, for us, the Jennifer Hudson case. This was the people of Illinois against William Balfour."

The jury foreman said he hoped the verdict would bring Hudson closure.
 
"I hope she can put this thing behind her and get on with the rest of her life," Robert Smith, a 47-year-old employee at Chicago Public Schools told reporters outside court.  

The jurors said the case was a difficult one to consider and conceded that they even felt sorry for the man whose fate they held in their hands. Balfour's 31st birthday was Thursday.

"Some of us tried to make him innocent, but the facts and everything just wasn't there. We tried. That's what took us so long. We had to pick everything apart. ... at some points we all did feel sorry for him," said juror Tracie Austin.

Hudson declined to speak to the media, but later released a written statement with her sister.

"We have felt the love," they said.

A recap of trial coverage:

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