'Do you want me to hit you again?' State makes appeal to jury first as re-trial begins for Terry Thompson

Jeff Ehling Image
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
State makes appeal to jury first as re-trial begins for Terry Thompson
State makes appeal to jury first as re-trial begins for Terry Thompson

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Four months after a mistrial, Terry Thompson, the man charged with murder in a deadly fight outside Denny's in 2017, went back before a jury.

Thompson's first trial for the choking death of John Hernandez ended in a hung jury in June.

On Tuesday just after 10 a.m., his re-trial got underway. Prosecutors delivered their opening statements.

"Do you want me to hit you again? Those are the words of that grown man as he took the life of John Hernandez," said prosecutor Sarah Seely.

Defense attorney Scot Courtney did not give an opening statement. He can give one after the state rests or not at all.

This case got a lot of attention because of the videos taken the night Thompson had his fatal confrontation with Hernandez outside a Denny's in northeast Harris County.

Prosecutors say the video shows Thompson restraining Hernandez and, ultimately, choking him to death.

But defense attorneys say the video is just a portion of the events that night. They allege Hernandez was drunk and urinating in the restaurant parking lot.

Defense attorneys also say Thompson confronted Hernandez about his actions, but then Hernandez threw the first punch.

A spokesperson for the Hernandez family says that did not mean he should lose his life.

"The level of frustration for the family was because of many factors, but more importantly, because of the fact they are not going to get their loved one back," said Cesar Espinosa, Hernandez family spokesperson.

In court Tuesday, the jury heard about the videos they will see and the 911 calls made the night of the altercation.

Seely told the jury they will hear from witnesses who pleaded with Thompson to get off of Hernandez when it became apparent he was struggling to breathe.

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

Timeline of events of the deadly confrontation outside a Denny's restaurant

Meanwhile, the defense says the outcome of the first trial was very much in favor of acquitting Thompson, with 11 to one voting not guilty on the murder charge. They hope for a similar outcome this time.

"I thought that the jury split was certainly to our advantage. I think they saw the facts," said Courtney.

In the previous trial, Courtney cross-examined several witnesses who said they saw what was going on and that put the doubt in the jurors' mind as to who was responsible for the fight and Hernandez's death.

Thompson's wife, Chauna, is a former Harris County Sheriff's deputy. She also faces murder charges for her role in the altercation.

The jury went home Tuesday around 5 p.m. The trial is expected to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

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

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