Last week in Harris County, Terry Thompson was tried for the highly publicized death of John Hernandez. After more than 29 hours of deliberations, jurors were unable to reach a verdict.
Mr. Hernandez died after being beaten and restrained in June 2017 outside a Denny’s in Harris County. Mr. Thompson, the husband of a member of local law enforcement, confronted Mr. Hernandez after seeing him urinating outside the restaurant.
Witnesses say Hernandez was quickly overpowered by Thompson, who continued to beat him and then put him in a chokehold for 10 to 15 minutes. They said Hernandez was too drunk to defend himself. There is a video of the incident.
Mr. Thompson always maintained that he was acting in self-defense on the night that Mr. Hernandez died.
Mr. Hernandez’ civil lawyer disagreed. “It’s a very sad video because you’re watching a man basically being killed,” Hernandez’ civil lawyer said. “He was kicking his legs in a helpless fashion, and you can hear him gargling or gurling, ‘Stop, stop.’” Mr. Hernandez’ wife and young child were also present.
The District Attorney’s Office agreed that Mr. Thompson should be charged and tried for Murder in this case.
But on Saturday evening, state District Judge Kelli Johnson was forced to declare a mistrial less than an hour after reading jurors an Allen charge before they returned to the jury room. Judges sometimes use Allen charges to try to push a deadlocked jury to make a final effort to reach a verdict before declaring a mistrial.
The mistrial provoked a lot of emotions from the family of John Hernandez. They were noticeably upset as they left the courthouse.
Terry Thompson left the courthouse as a free man — for now. He had nothing to say to reporters as he exited.
Local legal experts were not surprised by the deadlock due to the complicated issues that self-defense can present a jury. Defense counsel for Mr. Thompson told the press that the jury was hung 11-1 in favor of a not guilty verdict for his client. It is unknown as this time if the DA’s Office will try Mr. Thompson again.