Hudson jurors start deliberating

CHICAGO - Jury deliberations began Wednesday in the murder trial of the man accused of killing relatives of Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.

Earlier in the day, Hudson sobbed and dabbed her eyes when prosecutors displayed photos of the bullet-riddled bodies of her mother, brother, and 7-year-old nephew. Prosecutors contend Hudson's former brother-in-law, William Balfour, killed the family members in October 2008 in an act of vengeance against Hudson's sister, Julia Hudson, to whom he was married but estranged at the time.

In a scathing final word to jurors, lead prosecutor James McKay said that for jurors to believe Balfour was innocent, they would have to believe he was just unlucky enough to have someone else kill the Hudsons after he himself had threatened to murder them at least 25 times, as witnesses had testified.

Public defender Amy Thompson said prosecutors had failed to meet their burden of proving Balfour was the killer. "They know as they sit there that they have failed to prove the case," she said. - AP

Governor pushes Colo. civil unions

DENVER - An emotional Gov. John Hickenlooper said Wednesday that he was pulling Colorado lawmakers back to work to resolve a debate over civil unions that ended abruptly without a House vote a day earlier.

Hickenlooper's announcement on the final day of the 2012 regular legislative session was sparked by what the Democratic governor called an "overwhelming need" to discuss civil unions.

Gay-rights advocates say the proposal has enough support to become law but was blocked by last-minute stall tactics from GOP House leaders. Republicans disagree, saying the bill came up too late in the session for proper consideration.

Democrats have been pushing for the bill that would grant gay couples legal protections similar to marriage. Hickenlooper has indicated his support. - AP

2 Calif. officers face trial in death

SANTA ANA, Calif. - Two Southern California police officers were ordered Wednesday to stand trial in the death of a mentally ill homeless man after a violent arrest last summer.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Walter Schwarm made the ruling after a hearing that included surveillance video of the confrontation between the officers and Kelly Thomas, 37, in the city of Fullerton.

Officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Cpl. Jay Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault or battery by a public officer. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The officers confronted Thomas while responding to reports that a homeless man was looking into parked cars at a transit center.

Defense attorneys said that police viewed the incident as an encounter with a man who refused to give his name and continued to resist arrest even as multiple officers rushed to assist.

- AP