Judge declares mistrial in deadly Denny's chokehold trial after jury deliberates for more than 29 hours

ByChristine Dobbyn KTRK logo
Sunday, June 24, 2018
Judge declares mistrial in deadly Denny's chokehold trial
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The families of both Terry Thompson and John Hernandez must now wait for what happens next after a mistrial was declared in the Denny's murder trial.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After more than 29 hours of deliberations, jurors were unable to present a verdict in the Terry Thompson murder trial.

On Saturday evening, state District Judge Kelli Johnson declared a mistrial less than an hour after reading jurors an Allen charge before they returned to the jury room.

An Allen charge is used to push a deadlocked jury to make another effort to reach a verdict, but it was a task jurors just couldn't meet.

Terry Thompson is charged with murder after he got into a confrontation with Hernandez last year, holding him in a chokehold.

WATCH: Hernandez family reacts to news of mistrial

The jury made up of five women, seven men and one male alternate began deliberations in the murder trial Thursday afternoon.

Jurors had four options to consider.

Before deliberations began, the jury saw the now infamous cell phone video of the fight between Thompson and Hernandez outside of the Denny's last May.

It was during that fight that Thompson placed Hernandez in a chokehold. Hernandez would pass out and later died from his injuries.

RELATED: Timeline of deadly fight in Denny's parking lot

During closing arguments Thursday, the prosecution and the defense presented two very different sides of why the confrontation led to the death of Hernandez.

"Mr. Hernandez walks 46 feet, comes to Mr. Thompson and goes 'whack,' that's what he does," defense attorney Scot Courtney said.

"This is not a fight. This is not a fight. This is an assault that's being afflicted upon a man who is on the ground," prosecutor Patrick Stayton said.

The jury had four options when deciding this case. They ranged from finding Thompson not guilty, guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter or guilty of negligent homicide.

A murder conviction could have meant life in prison. A conviction on manslaughter could carry 20 years in prison, and the negligent homicide charge would carry 10 years of prison time.

Meantime, Terry's wife, former Harris County Sheriff's deputy Chauna Thompson, awaits her trial date in October. At least one legal expert says the outcome of Terry's trial will have a deep effect on what happens in his wife's trial.

DEATH AT DENNY'S: The fight,fatality and fallout of a fateful night

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