You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Man sentenced to 25 years in prison for chokehold death outside Denny's

CNN logo CNN 11/8/2018 By Nicole Chavez, CNN
In this June 13, 2018, file photo, Terry Thompson, accused of fatally choking John Hernandez, is shown in court in Houston. A jury on Monday, Nov. 5, convicted Thompson, the husband of a former sheriff's deputy, of murder for the strangulation death of a man the couple confronted outside a Houston-area restaurant. ( Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP, Pool, File) © Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP In this June 13, 2018, file photo, Terry Thompson, accused of fatally choking John Hernandez, is shown in court in Houston. A jury on Monday, Nov. 5, convicted Thompson, the husband of a former sheriff's deputy, of murder for the strangulation death of a man the couple confronted outside a Houston-area restaurant. ( Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP, Pool, File)

The husband of a former Texas deputy has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after he fatally choked a man outside a Denny's restaurant.

Terry Thompson was convicted of murder Monday and sentenced Wednesday in the death of 24-year-old John Hernandez, CNN affiliate KTRK reported.

The young father was left unconscious last year after Thompson confronted him for urinating outside the restaurant and an altercation ensued, the Harris County sheriff's office said. He was taken off life support three days later.

A 52-second cell phone video showed Hernandez kicking and gasping for air as Thompson restrained him in a chokehold while Thompson's wife, an off-duty deputy, pinned Hernandez's left arm to the ground.

The couple was indicted on murder charges nearly two weeks after the incident. Thompson's wife, former Harris County Deputy Chauna Thompson, was fired months later.

The case sparked a series of protests and authorities faced allegations that Thompson received preferential treatment from his wife's law enforcement colleagues. This week's verdict and sentence came months after Thompson's previous trial ended in a mistrial.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg described Thompson's sentence as appropriate, saying it would bring solace to the Hernandez family and the community.

"I think this is another lesson that things are never resolved successfully through violence and when they are, people would pay the price just as Terry Thompson did," Ogg told reporters outside the courtroom.

Scott Courtney, Thompson's attorney, said it was not the outcome he wanted.

"I never quarrel with the jury's decision, and I don't. They heard the evidence and they came to a just verdict and we accept that," Courtney told KTRK.

Chauna Thompson's trial is set for April, Ogg said.

The deadly fight

It was just after 11 p.m. on the night before Memorial Day when Terry Thompson verbally confronted Hernandez for urinating outside the Northeast Harris County restaurant, the sheriff's office said.

Courtney claimed Hernandez rushed to Thompson and struck him in the face.

John Hernandez © ktrk John Hernandez

As Thompson brought Hernandez to the ground, a man walked outside the restaurant and started recording the incident. The video shows Thompson on top of Hernandez, telling him, "Do you want me to hit you again? Do you want me to hit you again?"

Then two unknown people try to block the bystander from recording more of the scene. At one point a woman screams, "It's illegal to record." Several seconds later the recording stops.

Under Texas law, individuals are allowed to videotape others without their permission in public spaces with the exception of dressing rooms and bathrooms, but only if it's not for sexual purposes.

Courtney said Thompson was acting in self-defense.

When Hernandez stopped resisting, the Thompsons "noticed that he was not breathing," a statement from the sheriff's office said.

Before he was taken to the hospital, the statement says, Chauna Thompson performed CPR on Hernandez.

Hernandez died from anoxic encephalopathy caused by strangulation by chest compression, according to an autopsy report obtained by CNN affiliate KPRC.

CNN's Lauren Leslie, Hollie Silverman, Ed Lavandera and Jason Morris contributed to this report.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From CNN

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon