London: Jennifer Hudson broke down in tears as she faced the man accused of murdering her family across a courtroom.
The Oscar-winning actress, dressed all in black, was the first witness called in the trial of her former brother-in-law William Balfour who is accused of shooting dead her mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew at the house she grew up in.
The 30-year-old cried as she told the jury about her relationship with her late nephew Julian King.
“It was always me and my Tugga Bear. That’s what I called him,” the Telegraph quoted her as telling the court.
The Hollywood star also described how close she was to her mother, texting her every morning after she found fame.
When her mother failed to text back on the morning of October 24, 2008 she became worried, Hudson told the court.
Her sister Julia, 34, later called in a hysterical state to tell her what had happened.
The singer told the jury: “I remember it like it was yesterday.”
She had moved out of the three-storey family home in Chicago’s impoverished, crime-ridden Englewood neighbourhood in 2006.
She told the jury she went to school with Balfour and pointed him out across the courtroom.
The Grammy Award winner said she was never friends with Balfour and tried to keep her distance from him.
She also revealed that her family had not been happy about her sister’s decision to marry him, and the wedding had been held in secret.
“None of us wanted her to marry him. We didn’t like how he treated her and I did not like how he treated my nephew,” she said.
Prosecutors claim Balfour, 30, who was estranged from Julia, had allegedly threatened to kill the Hudson family at least two dozen times, starting earlier in 2008 when he moved out of their house.
A day before the killings Balfour allegedly told Julia Hudson: “If you ever leave me, I’m going to kill you, but I’m going to kill your family first.”
Balfour, a former member of Chicago’s Gangster Disciple gang was already on parole after serving nearly seven years in jail for attempted murder and carjacking.
Prosecutors say he flew into a jealous rage after he saw a gift of balloons outside the house and believed they were from Julia’s new boyfriend.
They say he went into the house where he shot Hudson’s mother Darnell Donerson, 57, in the living room, then shot her brother Jason Hudson, 29, twice in the head as he lay in bed.
Balfour then allegedly drove off in Jason Hudson’s car with the seven-year-old boy inside. He is accused of shooting the boy in the head as he lay behind a front seat. His body was found in the abandoned vehicle miles away after a three-day search.
A gun, which Balfour allegedly stole months before from Hudson’s brother, was recovered in a nearby car park.