Deliberations continue in trial of Terry Thompson, man accused of choking man to death outside Denny’s

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HOUSTON — Deliberations continued well into Friday night in the trail of Terry Thompson, the man charged in the choking death of a 24-year-old man outside a Denny's restaurant.  The defendant and his wife, former Harris County Deputy Chauna Thompson, were charged with murder in the death of John Hernandez.

Hernandez died after the Thompsons held him to the ground, with the husband having a bear-gripped chokehold around Hernandez's neck while the wife restrained his arms as he lay defenseless.

Hernandez was held in a chokehold for more than 15 minutes.

"What do you think he intends when you put him in a chokehold," a defense lawyer asked during trial. "What did you think was going to happen?"

The fatal beating, which was captured on video camera, took place on May 28, 2017 outside a Denny's restaurant in Crosby, and it was something many argued could have been prevented.

Investigators said, on that night, Terry Thompson drove up to the Denny's restaurant in the 17700 block of the Crosby Freeway around 11:40 p.m. His children were in the car with him as they waited to meet with his wife, who was off-duty at the time.

While waiting in the parking lot, deputies said Terry Thompson saw Hernandez urinating in public and went to verbally confront the man about his behavior. Officers said the argument escalated to a physical altercation. Moments later, Chauna Thompson arrived in a separate vehicle.

A struggle ensued, and it was all caught on camera by a concerned citizen who recorded the incident, despite being told by the deputy to stop filming.

Video clearly shows Terry Thompson on top of Hernandez's back with a strong chokehold around his neck. Hernandez is seen on the video kicking his back legs, and making audible sounds of struggle, but the deputy's husband would not let go. Chauna Thompson began telling the person capturing footage of the fight to stop recording her husband because it was "illegal."

Terry Thompson did not get off of Hernandez until he stopped moving. When the deputy realized Hernandez was not breathing, she began to perform CPR on him until paramedics arrived, witnesses said.

Neither the deputy nor her husband were injured during the altercation, authorities said.

Hernandez died May 31 after being taken off life support at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. His family made the tough decision to remove breathing tubes after it was determined by doctors that Hernandez was brain dead.

The Hernandez family was left in disbelief, and says the attack happened in front of Hernandez's young daughter.

After the video went public, #JusticeForJohnny protesters took to the streets and murder charges were filed against the husband and wife. Chauna Thompson was also terminated from her position in law enforcement.

The Hernandez family also filed a civil lawsuit against the Thompsons.

During the trial, defense attorneys claimed the couple acted out of self-defense against a physically aggressive Hernandez, but prosecutors insisted Hernandez was drunk and defenseless.  The defense tried to combat a doctor for the prosecution by suggesting Hernandez caused his own suffocation by resisting.

On day six of the trial, prosecutors rested their case. Thompson did not take the stand in his defense and closing arguments were wrapped up Thursday.

Terry Thompson's fate now rests in the hands of the jury. His wife is scheduled to go on trial in October.



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