The young boy's left arm protruded from beneath a dirty shower curtain, resting lifeless on the rear seat of the abandoned white SUV.
Amid the empty pop bottles, papers and scattered trash, singer Jennifer Hudson's 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, lay dead with two bullet wounds to the back of his head.
It was an awful end to an already tragic case. As news reporters flocked to the scene and helicopters whirred over the West Side that Monday morning in October 2008, Chicago police detectives began the painstaking task of photographing the boy's body and taking inventory of each bit of evidence found in the vehicle.
That evidence was detailed for jurors Monday as the second week got under way in William Balfour's trial on charges that days earlier he had gunned down Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, and brother Jason Hudson because he was upset Hudson's sister, Julia, wanted to divorce him. Prosecutors allege that Balfour then kidnapped Julian and shot him in Jason Hudson's stolen SUV before ditching the vehicle in the 1300 block of South Kolin Avenue.
For several hours Monday, investigators described how they combed through the vehicle, dusting it for fingerprints and using special lights on carpets and upholstery to identify potential evidence.
Balfour's attorneys have said that despite the meticulous forensic investigation, none of the physical evidence — fingerprints, DNA or gunshot residue — connects Balfour to the slayings.
Balfour, who teared up last week as prosecutors showed jurors autopsy photos of Julian on a screen, sat expressionless during Monday's testimony, glancing occasionally toward photos displayed of Julian's bloodied body.
The SUV was found Oct. 27, 2008, three days after the shootings at the Hudson family home in the Englewood neighborhood. The next day, detectives organized about 90 recent Chicago Police Academy graduates into two search parties that scoured the area between the West Side apartment where Balfour was arrested and the street where the SUV was found about two miles away.
Officer Terrence Fowler testified Monday he was only about a block into the search, walking shoulder-to-shoulder with other officers, when he swept his metal baton through some high weeds and garbage and struck an object.
"I heard a clink," Fowler testified. "I used my baton to scatter some debris out of the way, and that's when I observed a gun."
Prosecutors allege that the .45-caliber handgun — found about a block from the SUV containing Julian's body — had been stolen from Jason Hudson just weeks before the killings.
Before testimony began Monday, Judge Charles Burns granted a request by the Tribune and other news organizations to release the 911 recording in which Julia Hudson begged dispatchers for help after she found her mother fatally shot.
The singer's sister had just returned from work and discovered a bullet hole in the front door and her mother on the floor, lifeless and bloody. She ran out of the house and called 911, not realizing her brother also was dead inside the house or that Julian was missing.
In the nearly three-minute call, Julia Hudson can be heard sobbing as an emergency dispatcher initially appeared to downplay the seriousness of what she was saying.
She appeared to realize that her mother may not be the only one in harm's away.
"Where's my brother?" she asked.
Then moments later, she told someone nearby that she can't find her son.
"I don't know where Julian is," she cried.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun