Jury selection started Friday in the trial of Terry Thompson for the murder of John Hernandez outside a Denny’s restaurant located in the greater Houston area in May 2017.
Thompson is married to Chauna Thompson, a former Harris County sheriff’s deputy who was with her husband during the altercation that caused Hernandez’s death and is also charged. Her trial is scheduled to start in October.
The Thompsons are accused of holding down 24-year-old John Hernandez in a chokehold. Hernandez died three days later. Chauna Thompson, who was off duty during the confrontation, was later fired by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Terry Thompson faces up to life in prison if convicted.
The couple’s lawyers say Hernandez was urinating outside the restaurant when Terry Thompson confronted him, an argument turned physical and Hernandez threw the first punch, initiating the fight joined by Chauna Thompson.
Authorities initially tried to charge Hernandez with assault, but reversed after a bystander video surfaced.
The Houston-based pro immigration reform and pro social justice group Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle, commonly known as FIEL by its Spanish acronym, held a press conference at the entrance to the Harris County courthouse where the trial is taking place.
Ignacio and Maria Hernandez, who are John’s parents –as well as his sister Jennifer and other relatives–, attended the press conference.
Speaking in Spanish, Mr. Hernandez expressed gratitude to the community for the support they have given his family.
Civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen, who is representing Hernandez’s family in a civil lawsuit filed because of his death, and other activists were also at the press conference.
“We’re gonna be here for the family, we’re gonna be supporting them in whatever role we can until we see justice for John come through”, César Espinosa, FIEL’s executive director, said at the press conference.
Shere Dore, a local activist who is supporting the Hernandez family, said they are hoping “there is a stiff and stern conviction, but not only that, a sentencing as well.” “Conviction is only part of the battle, but the sentencing phase in this, we need that to be strict and stern,” Dore added.
Opening arguments are expected to begin on June 13th.
You can watch FIEL’s press conference here: