Jennifer Hudson Family Murder Trial Begins

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Balfour's trial opened this morning with State's Attorney Veryl Gambino recounting the defendant's alleged threat to his estranged wife, Julia Hudson, in the weeks preceding the killings: "If you leave me, I'll kill you. I'll kill your family first and then I'll kill you."

Gambino went on to describe Balfour as being enraged that Julia was dating another man and said he had issued several threats against her and her family, despite his being involved with two other women. Balfour allegedly went into a rage Oct. 24, 2008, after seeing balloons sent to Julia Hudson by another man and punched them.

After fatally shooting the actress' mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in her living room, prosecutors allege, he shot Hudson's brother, Jason, as he lay in bed, before kidnapping her nephew, Julian. Investigators believe the boy was shot in the head as he lay behind the front seat of an SUV.

Balfour has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and his trial is expected to last a month.

Julia Hudson found her mother's body in her home and initially thought she had fallen. It wasn't until she saw blood that she realized something worse had taken place. Julia ran screaming from the house and called 911.

Far from her "Dreamgirl" life in Hollywood, Jennifer Hudson has pledged to be in attendance every day during the murder trial.

The killings happened in the family home in the tough Englewood neighborhood of Chicago where Jennifer grew up. The trial is likely to throw a harsh spotlight on the gritty world from which the actress rose to stardom.

The unwelcome spotlight could not be more different from the celebrity glare to which she has become accustomed. Her career got a running start when she appeared on "American Idol" in 2004. She lost but later beat out that year's winner, Fantasia, for the coveted role of Effie White in the movie "Dreamgirls." She took home a Golden Globe and an Oscar in 2007 for that performance and followed with a Grammy Award in 2008.

Although she took a break from her career in the wake of the killings, she has returned to multi-media success. She appears in the new "Three Stooges" movie as a nun and sings the lead song on the soundtrack for the just-released film, "Think Like a Man."

Amy DuBois Barnett, editor-in-chief of Ebony Magazine, which featured a cover story on Hudson in January, told ABC News that "she has not only survived this tragedy, she has managed to thrive. If anything, her career has gotten stronger since this tragedy has taken place."

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