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Prospective Balfour jurors must answer questions about Jennifer Hudson

Defendant charged with murder in deaths of star's mother, brother and nephew

By Stacy St. Clair, Chicago Tribune reporter

11:43 AM EDT, April 9, 2012

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To sit in judgment of William Balfour, would-be jurors are going to have to reveal everything they know about singer Jennifer Hudson, including whether they watched her on "American Idol," saw her star-making turn in "Dreamgirls" or read her new book.

They even must share whether they belong to Weight Watchers, the diet program for which Hudson has been a spokeswoman for several years.

About 150 prospective jurors were asked to make such revelations Thursday in a 26-page questionnaire that will help both the defense and prosecution select the people who will decide Balfour's fate. The court released a blank copy of the questionnaire Friday.

Balfour, 30, is charged with fatally shooting Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, and her brother, Jason Hudson, in their South Side home in October 2008. He is also accused him of kidnapping and killing Hudson's nephew Julian King, 7.

Hudson, who won an Oscar in 2007 for her role in "Dreamgirls," plays a major part in the questionnaire with prospective jurors being asked among the following:

•Have you ever seen a movie in which Jennifer Hudson played any role?

•Have you ever seen Jennifer Hudson perform in person?

•Do you belong to any organization for which Jennifer Hudson is a spokesperson?

•Have you ever read a magazine or newspaper interview with Jennifer Hudson or an article about Jennifer Hudson or heard or seen a television or radio interview with Jennifer Hudson?

The questionnaires also ask potential jurors for their views on guns and illicit drugs, two issues that are expected to surface in testimony about Balfour and Hudson's brother, Jason.

Prospective jurors will discuss their answers individually with Cook County Judge Charles Burns and attorneys for both sides when jury selection begins in earnest Monday.

Burns has ordered that the identities of the jurors and their answers be kept secret until after a verdict has been reached.

Opening statements are scheduled to take place April 23.

sstclair@tribune.com