The man convicted of murdering Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew will spend the rest of his life in prison. This afternoon, a judge handed out three life sentences plus an additional one hundred and twenty years to William Balfour, as well as a stern lecture in which he called the defendant’s soul “as barren as dark space”.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Balfour addressed the court prior to sentencing, offering his condolences to the family and claiming to still love the seven-year-old child he murdered. His words brought tears to the Hudson family, one of whom ran out of the courtroom, while the judge’s punishment issued later brought a sense of relief. Balfour spending the rest of his life in jail won’t bring any of the three missing souls back, but it is at least some measure of justice.

At the time of the murders, Balfour was estranged from his wife, Jennifer Hudson’s sister Julia. He entered the family home, murdered Hudson’s mother Darnell Donnerson, her brother Jason Hudson and abducted seven-year-old Julian. Police issued an Amber Alert, but by the time the boy was found, he was dead from multiple gunshot wounds.

The horrifying saga might be over, but the wounds will no doubt be there for the rest of the Hudson family’s lives. Nothing can take back what happened that day, but at least this is something.

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