Springfield, Ill. The convicted felon suspected in the slayings of Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew was arrested after police allegedly found crack cocaine in his car in June, but authorities declined to return him to prison on a parole violation, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
A judge dismissed the charge for lack of probable cause in July, but under the strict rules of the state's parole program, William Balfour could have gone back to prison just for the arrest.
No one has been charged in the shooting deaths of Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, her brother, Jason Hudson, and 7-year-old nephew Julian King, but Balfour has been named as a suspect. Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said Tuesday he is confident the case will be solved.
Balfour - Julian's stepfather and the estranged husband of Hudson's sister - served seven years for attempted murder and vehicular hijacking. Court records show that in 1998 Balfour stole a Chevrolet Suburban and, with the vehicle's owner clinging to the top, intentionally rammed it into a light pole, fence and iron gate.
According to a Chicago police report, officers pulled Balfour over June 19 after hearing gunshots and seeing his car moving at a high rate of speed. Inside the vehicle, police said, they found a rock of cocaine with a street value of about $100 on the driver's seat.
Balfour's parole history report indicates a parole supervisor declined to issue a warrant to revoke Balfour's parole after his arrest for possession of cocaine.
"Per supervisor ... no warrant," the report reads. "Agent to monitor offender, impose sanctions."
Corrections Department spokesman Derek Schnapp said officials determined "the evidence that was presented during that time wouldn't have necessarily warranted a violation."
Court records do not indicate the reason a judge found no probable cause for the drug arrest.
A felony arrest usually is enough for Corrections to revoke parole, said Thomas Peters, a Chicago criminal defense attorney who represents parolees.
"Even though the criminal case is dismissed does not mean that you necessarily get a pass on a parole violation because the standard of proof is much less," Peters said.
Peters added, however, that officials also would have considered Balfour's fairly clean record as a parolee and that he apparently still had a job. In addition, he said, jail and prison overcrowding often play a role in determining whether parole is revoked.
Donerson, 57, and Jason Hudson, 29, were found in their home Friday afternoon. The body of Julian, who lived with the other victims, was found in the back of an SUV on Chicago's West Side on Monday. Authorities declared his death a homicide Tuesday but would not say how long he had been dead.
In a message posted on her MySpace.com page Monday, Julian's mother thanked people for their prayers and said her son's "lil soul is at ease."
"I take comfort in knowing that Julian is with my mother and my brother and most of all the Lord and now he's my angel he's protecting," Julia Hudson wrote.
Jennifer Hudson, who won a best-supporting-actress Oscar last year for "Dreamgirls," has thanked fans for their support on her MySpace page but has been in seclusion in Chicago.
Looking for Balfour
Around the time the first bodies were found, Balfour's parole agent had reached him by phone after Balfour missed a meeting with him that day. Balfour told the agent he was "baby-sitting on the West Side of Chicago," according to internal parole records.
The agent said he thought he heard a child in the background during the call. Balfour was taken into custody later Friday.
The Illinois Department of Corrections issued a warrant for Balfour on Saturday for violating terms of his parole by possessing a weapon and failing to attend anger management counseling and a substance abuse program, according to his parole history report.
Criminal charges can send parolees back to prison and keep them there even if the counts are ultimately dropped. A board that reviews such cases after parolees are sent back to prison relies on a preponderance of the evidence, a lower standard than in court. The board considers the violence of the original crime, the parole agent's recommendation, the arrest report, the parolee's adjustment and his attitude during a follow-up interview in prison, among other things.
In Balfour's case, a violation could have sent him back behind bars for a period as long as the remainder of his parole - until May 2009 - minus a day off for each day of good behavior. That would have meant a release date in mid-December at the earliest.
Parole records also show that a woman at Balfour's home refused to open the door during an agent's visit on Aug. 27. The woman told the agent during the 8:30 a.m. visit that Balfour was at work but Balfour's boss told the agent he wasn't due until noon.
"Agent heard other people inside the host site and suspected maybe suspicious activities going on," the report said. "Agent will be following up for a possible warrant on parolee."
Parolees must agree to allow agents to visit their homes and consent to searches. There's no warrant mentioned in following days on the report, which does note, however, that Balfour passed a drug test.
Schnapp, the corrections spokesman, said the evidence again wasn't sufficient to warrant revoking parole.