Prosecutor: Killer of Jennifer Hudson's family lucky to have avoided death penalty

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The man who put William Balfour away for life tonight says he is lucky to have escaped death for the murders of actress/singer Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew. (WLS)

An ABC7 I-Team Report
The man who put William Balfour away for life tonight says he is lucky to have escaped death for the murders of actress/singer Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew.

Lawyer James McKay, who recently retired after 30-years as an assistant Cook County state's attorney, says only a quirk in timing saved Balfour from the death penalty. When Balfour killed three members of Hudson's family, Illinois still allowed imposition of the death penalty. By the time of his trial, it had been abolished.

WATCH: Outtakes from James McKay interview
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See additional footage of attorney James McKay, the prosecutor on William Balfour's case, speak to the ABC7 I-Team.

After viewing the I-Team's interview with Balfour, 34, at Pontiac prison, McKay concluded that "he's lying about everything and he's ignoring all of the evidence against him."

The former prosecutor said on Friday that there was "a mountain of evidence that buried this guy. It was a tidal wave that was drowning him in this evidence." But, McKay said Balfour didn't "have the guts" to look at ABC7's camera and admit that he killed three people including a child.

During the prison interview, Balfour suggested that all of the state's 81 witnessed lied in a massive conspiracy to frame him. McKay contends that the witnesses, from strangers to Balfour's friends, to law enforcement, had no interest bias or motive to lie.

"You would have to believe that all 81 of these witnesses-who have no knowledge of the other witnesses in the case-independent and without communicating with any of these witnesses, decided to frame Mr. Balfour and let the real killer go free. That is absurd."

"We have his cell pinging off cell towers at the time these people are being killed-the cell tower closest to the Hudson house" McKay recalled. "A couple hours later his cell phone his pinging off a cell tower on the west side where that SUV he was seen driving and that child was dead in the back seat-was parked."

Among the evidence McKay considers strongest was the unusual-looking grey and black pistol. "That gun that was found that killed all 3 of these people was THE gun-to the exclusion of every gun in the world-that was in this defendant's possession for weeks, months even days before the murder. And people that didn't even know each other, could not conspire with each other, all testified they say that gun on Balfour's person."

For the prosecution, McKay says "this case was a layup."

As for the only question Balfour refused to answer, why he didn't testify at trial, McKay says that Judge Burns asked the defendant if he wanted to testify and that he said no. Balfour also told the judge that he hadn't been coerced to not testify.

After watching Mr. Balfour's conversation with the I-Team, "if he took the stand he was going to get crushed...with all the evidence against him" said McKay. "He lied to you."

Balfour is serving three life sentences for killing Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and 7 year old nephew.

According to the ex-prosecutor, "Mr. Balfour is very lucky. If the death penalty was still in place at the time of this trial, I believe he would be on death row right now because of all the aggravation in this case coupled with his lengthy criminal history."

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