HOUSTON - Jury selection got underway Friday in the high profile murder trial of Terry Thompson, an ex-deputy's husband accused of putting 24-year-old John Hernandez into a fatal choke hold outside a Denny's near Crosby a little more than a year ago.
Hernandez died in the hospital three days after the altercation, which happened on May 28.
The supsect's wife and former Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Chauna Thompson, 46, faces her own murder trial in the case later this year.
Terry Thompson, 42, appeared in court as, one by one, potential jurors were evaluated.
According to a clerk for the 178th District Court, the jury selection has proven to be a lengthy process.
Still, the court hopes to have a full jury picked by the end of the day.
Thompson faces life in prison if convicted.
The emotionally-charged case has led to national attention after mass protests have gathered locally over the past year— all under the mantra Justice for Johnny.
Some Hernandez family members and supporters gathered outside the Harris County courthouse during jury selection.
"Justice is coming in the form of a trial that's starting here today," civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen declared. "Over a dozen witnesses came forward for the prosecution."
"Conviction is only part of the battle, but sentencing phase in this-- we need that to be strict and stern," local activist Shere Dore said.
But Thompson's attorneys have expressed concern that "mob justice" may be delivered instead of calling attention to facts in the case they say clear their client.
They claim Hernandez was urinating in the Denny's parking lot when their client approached him and an argument broke out.
They also say Hernandez threw the first punch, which eventually led to the choke hold being used.
No matter what, it's clear a showdown in court is brewing, and this case could fire up the community before it's all over.