CHICAGO (AP) — The first full day of jury selection in the Chicago trial of the man accused of killing singer and actress Jennifer Hudson's family ended Monday without the seating of a full jury.
William Balfour is accused of killing Hudson's mother, brother and nephew. The 30-year-old Balfour faces a maximum life sentence if convicted.
Fourteen people were selected Monday to be among the 12 jurors and six alternates after nine hours of interviewing potential jurors one by one. The last four panelists are expected to be selected Tuesday.
Cook County Circuit Judge Charles Burns and attorneys looked to weed out anyone who might be swayed by the 30-year-old Hudson's celebrity. Burns told would-be jurors that anyone opposed to capital punishment need not worry because Illinois abolished the death penalty last year.
Hudson's name came up frequently during questioning, though most of the would-be jurors insisted that despite what they knew about her or heard in the media about the case, they could set and consider only the evidence presented at the trial.
There was one notable exception.
One woman in her 30s, a salesperson at Xerox, was dismissed after she told those assembled in the back room, including Balfour, that she is a big fan of Hudson's and would be unable to discount the tragedy and give the defendant a fair trial.
"I'm a fan of Jennifer Hudson's and I feel bad for what she went through," she said.
Only a few people said they knew little to nothing about Hudson. One women in her 30s picked for the jury said she had heard of Hudson but had no idea what she looked like.
Among those selected to serve on the panel where several who said they had relatives murdered. And one man who was selected described how an attacker 25 years ago grabbed his sister's purse at a bus stop and slashed her throat, badly injuring her.
Asked by the judge if she thought she could be impartial given the tragedy in her family, a woman whose son was murdered in 2002 said firmly, "I know I can." She was put on the jury.
Also chosen was a Mexican-American truck driver who said he sometimes has trouble speaking English, an unemployed women who lives three blocks from the courthouse and a customer representative at a chocolate company who responded when asked about her hobbies that, "I like to sleep, then I like to eat, then I sleep again."
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