Day 2 of retrial of John Hernandez
HOUSTON – In the second day of testimony in the retrial of a former Harris County sheriff’s deputy’s husband, prosecutors showed jurors the now-famous video of the fight outside a Denny’s restaurant in Crosby that left John Hernandez, 24, dead.
Terry Thompson, 42, is on trial for the second time for Hernandez’ murder after his first trial ended with a hung jury last June.
Wednesday afternoon, Ryan Steiger took the stand to introduce the 53-second cell phone video that brought the case national attention.
Steiger shot the video the night of May 28, 2017, when Thompson and Hernandez got into an argument in the parking lot after Hernandez who was intoxicated, urinated as Thompson and his family arrived.
The argument escalated into a fight when Thompson says Hernandez punched him in the eye.
Steiger’s video shows Thompson on top of Hernandez on the floor of the restaurant just inside the front door. In the video Thompson is seen holding Hernandez in a choke hold while saying repeatedly, “You want me to hit you again?”
The video was played extensively in the days after Hernandez’ death.
Several members of the Hernandez family left the courtroom Wednesday before the video was played for the jury to avoid seeing it.
"It was very tough the first time. The witnesses having to see evidence again, it's obviously very tough for the family," said activist Ceasar Espinosa with F.I.E.L. Houston.
Pleading self-defense in his first trial, Thompson came within one vote of acquittal by the jury.
In this second trial, the original prosecutors have been replaced by a more experienced team made up of John Jordan and Sarah Seely.
Another activist accompanying the Hernandez family to court Wednesday, Sharee Dore, said the changes were made at the request of Hernandez family following the first trial.
"We contacted (Harris County District Attorney) Kim Ogg’s office and said we’d like another prosecutor on the case. Someone a little more aggressive, someone who’s had experience in murder cases like this," she said.
This time prosecutors seem to be following a different strategy, presenting evidence and some witnesses that weren’t used in the first trial.
Prosecutors finished their questioning of Steiger this afternoon. When court resumes Thursday morning, he will be back on the stand for cross-examination by the defense.
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