Jury deliberating murder charge against ex-deputy’s husband
HOUSTON (AP) — The husband of a former sheriff’s deputy charged in the strangulation death of a man he and his wife confronted outside a Houston-area restaurant wanted to kill the man and kept him in a chokehold after he stopped resisting, prosecutors told jurors Friday before they began deliberations.
A defense attorney for Terry Thompson, 42, countered that his client was only defending himself after being punched in the face and insisted that Thompson kept John Hernandez, 24, subdued only until he stopped resisting.
Jurors deliberated Thompson’s fate for about seven hours Friday after closing arguments before ending their work for the day. Deliberations were set to resume on Monday.
Thompson faces up to life in prison if convicted of murder. He could also be convicted of the lesser charges of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.
This is the second time a jury takes Thompson’s case. His first trial in June ended with a hung jury.
Prosecutors said Thompson was quickly in control of Hernandez after the two got into a confrontation when Thompson saw Hernandez urinating outside a Denny’s restaurant in Sheldon in May 2017. His wife, Chauna Thompson, 46, arrived later to help her husband subdue and restrain Hernandez. She was off-duty at the time and was later fired by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
During closing arguments, prosecutor John Jordan played cellphone video and 911 calls in which witnesses can be heard pleading for Thompson to let go of Hernandez and Hernandez can be heard gasping for breath.
Jordan said that during the altercation, Hernandez signaled with his hand that he was no longer resisting but Terry Thompson kept Hernandez in a chokehold for another three minutes and 36 seconds until Hernandez went limp.
“Terry Bryan Thompson did not kill John Hernandez because he had to. He killed him because he wanted to,” Jordan said.
Defense attorney Scot Courtney portrayed Hernandez as the aggressor, saying he was drunk and belligerent and never stopped fighting Thompson until he passed out.
Thompson was only trying to have dinner with his kids when he was attacked by Hernandez and had no intention of killing him, Courtney said.
“He doesn’t say, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ He says, ‘stop’” to Hernandez, Courtney said.
Hernandez died at a hospital three days after the confrontation. A medical examiner ruled he died of lack of oxygen to the brain caused by strangulation and chest compression.
Hernandez’s family has remained critical of the investigation into his death, saying deputies at the scene didn’t interview potential witnesses and initially tried to have an assault charge filed against Hernandez.
“Yes, I believe this time there will be justice,” Ignacio Hernandez, John Hernandez’s father said of Thompson’s retrial.
Hernandez’s family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Thompsons, asking for at least $1 million in damages. The lawsuit is pending.
Thompson’s wife, who was also charged with murder, is set for trial in April.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juanlozano70