William Balfour had denied any involvement in the killings of actress Jennifer Hudson's family earlier that day when Chicago police detectives burst through the door of the tiny police interview room to confront him.
"We have a little problem, amigo," snarled Wentworth Area Detective Thomas Kelly in a thick Chicago accent. "You didn't use your bus pass."
Detectives had caught Balfour in a lie, authorities say, about his movements on the day of the South Side slayings: that he used his CTA card to take a train and bus to his girlfriend's house on the West Side on the morning of Oct. 24, 2008.
The dramatic 45-minute video recording of the interrogation was played for jurors Monday as the third week of evidence got under way in Balfour's murder trial. Judge Charles Burns told jurors to expect to begin deliberations Wednesday after closing arguments.
In the video, never heard before publicly, as Kelly confronted him with CTA records and other information that didn't jibe with his story, Balfour doubled over on the bench. His knees began to bounce. He complained of a pain in his side. He grew somber. But he also continued to deny any knowledge of the slayings of Hudson's mother and brother or of the whereabouts of Hudson's missing nephew, 7-year-old Julian King.
"Oh, here we go with this," Balfour sighed after the detectives again pressed him about the boy. "I don't know. … I last saw him a week or two ago."
"Let me tell you something: If that little boy turns up D-E-A-D somewhere, you're gonna have a problem," Kelly retorted as he stood in front of Balfour, jingling the coins in his pocket incessantly.
"What you mean, I'm gonna have a problem?" Balfour asked.
"Just what I said," said the detective, still rattling his change.
Balfour, 30, is accused of killing Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, and brother Jason Hudson, 29, then kidnapping and killing Julian and leaving the boy's body on the West Side. Prosecutors alleged Balfour was upset that his estranged wife, Hudson's sister, Julia, was seeing another man.
Balfour's attorneys have said there is no physical evidence tying Balfour to the crime and suggested the slayings could be tied to Jason Hudson's drug business, which he operated out of the family home.
In the video, Balfour was animated and talkative at first, telling Kelly and his partner, Detective Allen Szudarski, about Jason Hudson's drug business, which he said neighbors kept mum about "to protect (Jennifer Hudson's) name."
"Her brother, he created a lot of enemies over there," Balfour said. "It was a drug house. What do you expect?"
Balfour said Jason Hudson was wary of people coming to the house after it had been broken into earlier that summer, prompting Jennifer Hudson to buy new window bars and locks. But Balfour denied that there was "bad blood" between him and his brother-in-law.
"Naw, ain't no bad blood! He just don't want nobody around," Balfour said.
On the video, Balfour said he talked to his estranged wife briefly at the house before she left for work at 8 a.m., then drove to a gas station to buy power steering fluid for his car. He said the fluid was leaking so badly, he had to leave the car parked near Robeson High School. He said he took a northbound Red Line train at 69th Street shortly before 9 a.m., then took a bus west to girlfriend Shonta Cathey's house.
When he was arrested about 6 p.m., Balfour had a seven-day CTA fare card and his cellphone on him. Kelly and Szudarski learned during the interrogation that the fare card had not been used at all that day. Records had also shown Balfour's phone was still pinging off a tower near the Hudson home long after he said he had boarded the train.
In addition, Cathey, who was being interviewed in a separate room, had told police she had seen Balfour with a .45-caliber pistol. Balfour denied ever having a gun, and when confronted with the information about his CTA card, he grew defensive, at one point demanding to see the records.
"I don't know. …That — my bus card was used today. No b.s.," Balfour stammered. Later, he mumbled under his breath, "That had to be an old-ass card."
When Kelly briefly left the interview room, Szudarski took a softer tone, telling Balfour he was the only one who could help himself. The detective sat on the bench next to Balfour and suggested that he should come clean if he had acted in self-defense.
"No, hell no," Balfour said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun