Witness describes John Hernandez as drunk, belligerent on night of fatal fight

HOUSTON – Surveillance video from the night of a fatal confrontation between two men at a northeast Houston restaurant last year was expected to be shown Thursday during the second day of Terry Thompson's trial.

Terry Thompson and his wife, Chauna Thompson, a former Harris County sheriff’s deputy, are charged with murder in connection to the death of John Hernandez after a fight at a Denny’s restaurant in the 17200 block of Crosby Freeway on May 28, 2017.

TIMELINE: The John Hernandez case

Jurors spent the morning listening to testimony from Blake Wise, who said he was at the restaurant as Hernandez arrived.  He said Hernandez appeared to be drunk as he got out of his truck.  

“(Hernandez) blankly looked in our direction,” Wise said. “He looked intoxicated.” He added that Hernandez appeared to be swaying back and forth.

Wise said Hernandez yelled at him, threw up his hands and asked if Wise wanted to fight. He said the woman who was accompanying Hernandez tried several times to get Hernandez to go into the restaurant.

Surveillance video that was played showed Hernandez repeatedly pushing the woman away.

“I have a gun, too,” Wise said Hernandez shouted.

Wise said he left the restaurant’s parking lot after Hernandez finally went into the restaurant. He said he called 911 because he was afraid there would be an incident inside the restaurant or Hernandez would drive home drunk with a small child in the truck. His call was played in court.

Wise said he did not know anything had happened until he drove by the restaurant about an hour later and saw flashing police lights. He said he called investigators after seeing the incident reported on television.

The girlfriend who was with John Hernandez the night they went to Denny’s said during trial Thursday that he was drunk at the restaurant.

Maria Toral said they planned to go to a restaurant in Humble but instead went to the Denny’s in Crosby because it was close to their home. She said the two were with their then 3-year-old daughter.

"He never knew that you could love someone so much until he had her," Toral said in court.

Toral said she realized there were problems when she saw Hernandez and Thompson standing chest to chest outside the restaurant. She said Thompson appeared “big” and “looked aggressive.” She said she begged Thompson to “Stop, he’s drunk.”

Toral said the next thing she remembered was Thompson on top of Hernandez. She claimed Thompson hit Hernandez in the front and the back of the head. As she made these statements, Thompson shook his head “no” in court.

She said Hernandez took a lot of direct hits against the hard concrete.

On cross examination, Toral admitted she had lied to the grand jury as well as to an investigator when she claimed that she was the one who drove to the restaurant that night. In court, she claimed that she told that lie because she wanted to protect her family.

Chauna Thompson is scheduled to stand trial in October.

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