HOUSTON – The girlfriend of John Hernandez, Maria Toral, was back on the witness stand Friday in the trial of Terry Thompson, the man accused of killing Hernandez.
She said she called authorities less than three months before Hernandez's death to report domestic violence. She said when Hernandez would drink, he would become a different person.
Tearfully, she said in court, “When John drank, he wasn’t himself.” She also told the court, “He could be an ass.”
On a form, filled out by a Harris County sheriff’s deputy during the domestic violence call, the deputy assumed Toral indicated Hernandez had choked, controlled her and was violently jealous. However, Toral claimed part of the report was not truthful. She said she called deputies because, “No family is perfect. We did have our problems.”
Toral testified that she previously testified that the night Hernandez and Terry Thompson tangled at Denny’s restaurant, “It was both of them's fault from my point of view.” She also said on the stand that Hernandez did not have fault in his death. She said she changed her opinion about fault after he died. She said she now believes the death is Thompson’s fault.
Defense attorneys said Hernandez did not consider Toral to be his wife or common-law wife. Defense attorneys pointed to Hernandez’s Facebook page that only said he was “in a relationship.”
They also pointed out that all medical records during Hernandez’s hospital stay were signed off by his parents, not by Toral. They also said medical records completed by his parents indicated that he was not married. Toral said, “I always felt married.” Defense attorneys said she only started claiming marriage after she and his parents filed a civil lawsuit against Thompson after Hernandez's death.
A sergeant with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Division testified that he interviewed Thompson the night of the incident. He said there was no sign that Thompson was impaired or had consumed alcohol.
"This has been a very difficult week for the Hernandez family. But we stand here with them. We're going to continue. And at the end of the day, all of the facts will be presented. And hopefully we will get justice for John,” said Cesar Espinoza, executive director of FIEL. "The family knows that there are family issues with any family. We won't go into too much detail but at the end of the day, they want to remind everybody that John was a family man, he was a good son. And that's what details of the case will go on and focus on."