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Hudson avoids murder photos anguish

Singer and actress Jennifer Hudson shut her eyes as a police officer described finding her dead family members and later left the courtroom before harrowing photos of their bodies were shown.

The 30-year-old Oscar winner watched must of the evidence in the Chicago triple murder trial before getting up and leaving shortly before prosecutors displayed pictures of her mother and brother's bloodied bodies.

On Tuesday, prosecutors began shifting their focus to presenting crime scene evidence in the case against Hudson's former brother-in-law, William Balfour, who was estranged from his wife at the time of the killings, and denies murdering Hudson's mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew.

Several of the photographs showed Hudson's mother, 57-year-old Darnell Donerson, sprawled face down on the floor, with blood staining her white nightgown. Donald Fanelli, the forensics expert who was on the scene the day of the killings, said Hudson's mother may have used a broom by her hand in one picture to fend off the attacker. Other photos showed Hudson's 29-year-old brother Jason with a gunshot wound near his ear, his head still on his pillow as he lay in bed.

Earlier, Hudson hung her head and shut her eyes as Chicago police sergeant David Dowling described finding her mother's body in the living room with gunshot wounds through her back. Sgt Dowling described finding Jason Hudson dead in his bed, with the sheets pulled up as if he had been sleeping.

Hudson, wearing a black top and green skirt, sat in a fourth-row bench well within view of jurors for much of the day.

Another officer told of the frantic search for Hudson's nephew, Julian King, who was found in a sport utility vehicle three days later.

Prosecutors also played a surveillance video showing Balfour getting out of a car at a petrol station near the Hudson house on Chicago's South Side before the killings. Prosecutors are trying to show he was in the area at the time - something Balfour has denied. As the video played on a courtroom screen, Hudson rested her head on her knees for several minutes.

With no surviving witnesses to the murders, prosecutors must offer overwhelming circumstantial evidence that Balfour committed the grisly crime on October 24 2008. One challenge will be tying Balfour to the alleged murder weapon, a silver and black .45-calibre handgun.

If convicted of at least two of the murder counts, Balfour will face a mandatory life sentence.

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