Prior to today's sentencing hearing, there was some speculation that William Balfour, the man convicted of killing three of R&B singer Jennifer Hudson's close family members, might have a shot at a new trial. No such luck yet, as Balfour's motion for a new trial was denied today prior to sentencing, reports NBC Chicago.
We'd expect that an appeal, on similar grounds, will almost certainly follow.
The motion for a new trial, which certainly had some merit, derived from Jennifer Hudson's testimony. She was the first witness and her testimony seemed to only cover her personal dislike for Balfour, how she found out about the murders, and how it impacted her emotionally.
Certainly, such testimony might be helpful in sentencing, but when it comes to guilt versus innocence, her testimony was at best barely relevant. Combine that with her celebrity status and Balfour's counsel had a legitimate argument that the evidence was more prejudicial than helpful to a determination of guilt.
The judge didn't agree. Of course, doing so would be admitting that the judge erred in allowing the testimony in the first place, but we all know that judges can set aside their egos for the sake of justice, right?
Sarcasm aside, the evidence was pretty extensive. If it was an error of judgment to let Jennifer Hudson testify, it probably amounted to a harmless error. Nonetheless, expect the issue to be raised on appeal, as Balfour will certainly have plenty of time on his hands.
After testimony from the victim's family, and Balfour's condolences to the family and proclamation of innocence, the judge sentenced him to three life sentences, plus 120 years for home invasion, kidnapping, and possession of a stolen vehicle. The judge also had a few parting words for Balfour.
"Mr. Balfour, you have the heart of an arctic night and your soul is as barren as deep space."
- Consult a Chicago Criminal Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- William Balfour Found Guilty of Hudson Family Murders (FindLaw's Chicago Criminal Law Blog)
- Harmless Error: Everyone Knows the Cops Think Your Client 'Did It' (FindLaw's U.S. Ninth Circuit Blog)
- Judge gives Balfour 3 life sentences, calls his soul 'barren' (Chicago Tribune)