Witness describes phone call with suspect in Hudson family slaying trial

Quincy Brown was sitting at home in Blue Island on the afternoon that three of Jennifer Hudson's family members were slain when he says he got a panicked call from his friend William Balfour.

"At the time he was speed talking. He was in a rush, like a panic," Brown, 30, testified today as the third week of testimony began at Balfour's trial in the murders of the singer's mother, brother and young nephew.

Balfour seemed desperate as he begged Brown to help him fix the power steering in his car, according to the testimony. Balfour wanted to meet at 71st Street and Vincennes Avenue almost immediately, even though he knew Brown was miles away in the south suburbs, Brown said.

While they were talking, Brown said, Balfour took another call. When he came back on the line, Balfour said his estranged wife, Julia Hudson, was with the police and asking why he killed her mother and brother.

"I said, 'Are you for real? Why would she blame you of all people?' " Brown testified. "And he said, 'Because I got into it with that (expletive),' " making a crude reference to his wife's brother, Jason Hudson.

After he hung up the phone, Brown said he saw the breaking news stories on TV that Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, and brother, Jason Hudson, 29, had been found shot to death in the family's Englewood home. There was an Amber Alert for Hudson's missing 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, and Balfour was being named as a possible suspect.

Brown testified he decided to call Balfour back and tell him he was concerned. Brown said Balfour claimed he was "out west" and accused him of "acting like the police" when he kept asking questions. When Brown told Balfour he was all over the news, he acted surprised, Brown said.

"Then I asked him boldly, did he do it?" Brown testified. "He said, 'It's bigger than me,' and that's when he hung up the phone."

Brown, who is serving almost a 5-year prison sentence for possession of a weapon by a felon, wore an orange prison jumpsuit for his testimony. He denied that he was getting any special treatment or leniency for his cooperation. He also admitted he had not told his story to investigators until they visited him last year in the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan.

Brown also testified that three days before the murders, he was with Balfour at a get-together when Balfour flew into a rant about Jason Hudson and how he "hated that (expletive)" before pulling out the .45-caliber pistol he'd allegedly stolen from Jason Hudson's room and slamming it on a card table.

The next day, Brown said, he was driving Balfour's car and saw the gun in the center console. On cross-examination, Brown admitted he had fired the gun for fun that day from his friend's porch and then driven Balfour's car afterward.

Last week, a forensic expert had testified he found gunshot residue on the steering wheel cover of Balfour's car.

Balfour, 30, is accused of bursting into the Hudson family home on Oct. 24, 2008, and killing Donerson and Jason Hudson, then kidnapping and killing Julian before leaving the boy's body on the West Side in Jason Hudson's stolen SUV. Prosecutors alleged Balfour was upset his estranged wife wanted a divorce and was seeing another man.

jmeisner@tribune.com

Twitter: @jmetr22b

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