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Hudson living under spotlight of tragedy

DWAYNE T.ERVIN & | 4/12/2011, 4:34 p.m.

Officials from the Cook County Medical Examiner's office released an autopsy statement on Tuesday that ruled the cause and manner of death of 7-year-old Julian King, nephew of actress-singer Jennifer Hudson, as a homicide. King was shot multiple times, officials said. King was found dead on Monday morning on the 1300 block of S. Kolin inside a white, 1994 Chevrolet Suburban. An Amber Alert was previously issued for Hudson's nephew after her older sister Julia reported him missing. Joined by King's two aunts and uncle, Jennifer Hudson identified the body of her nephew on Monday by looking at his face on a live-feed, flat-screen monitor in a separate room at the family's request. The viewing took 20 minutes. "Hudson kept her composure with the family. They were crying and distraught and held hands as a sign of strength. Hudson was the leader of that group and encouraged her family to remain strong," said Sean Howard, a spokesman for the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. Before she flew into town, Hudson was on vacation in Florida with her fiance when she heard about the deaths of her mother, Darnell Donerson, and brother, Jason Hudson, who were found dead last Friday at their Englewood home on 70th and Yale.

The tragedy of the triple homicide drew an outpour of support for Hudson from Sen. Barack Obama, for whom she had the pleasure of singing the national anthem in August for at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, where he accepted the presidential nomination. "Michelle and I were absolutely heartbroken to learn about this unimaginable tragedy, and we want Jennifer to know that she is in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time," Obama said. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who once described Hudson as an extremely talented actress and singer at an event the city hosted last year in her honor, said to reporters that his "prayers go out to them, and [the police] are working to make sure they get the offender and other facts involved in the case." Cong. Bobby Rush, whose district includes Englewood, where the Hudson family lives, described the killings as senseless murders that never should have happened. "I mourn today because three people in the Englewood community died a senseless death apparently at the barrel of a gun. I mourn because Darnell, Jason and Julian are members of my community. I mourn because every-day, 45 people, on average, are fatally shot in the United States, which is more than the number of American soldiers killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Americans of conscious must come together to stop these senseless deaths. We must say, 'Enough is enough. Stop the killing,'" Rush stated.

Support also poured in from actress Queen Latifah, whom Hudson starred with in the recent movie "The Secret Life of Bees." "I know the family is devastated and heartbroken, and I hope that friends and fans and those who care about her just pray for her and give her all the support that she needs at this moment and for quite a long time to come," Queen Latifah stated. According to reports, Jennifer Hudson's sister Julia and her husband William Balfour had a history of domestic violence. The two were separated and on the verge of a divorce. Although he has not been charged, Balfour is considered a "person of interest" in the case and has been questioned but not charged in the killings. Julia Hudson and Balfour's marital problems reportedly led up to his eviction from the household on the 7000 block of S. Yale earlier this year. He has convictions for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possession of a stolen motor vehicle, according to the Illinois Corrections Department and is currently being held on a parole violation by the department. Jennifer Hudson, an Arista Records label artist, currently has a top R&B debut single, "Spotlight," on the Billboard chart.