HOUSTON – Terry Thompson was found guilty of murder in the Denny's confrontation case after the jury reached a verdict Monday afternoon.
Thompson and his wife, Chauna, a former Harris County deputy, were each charged with murder in the May 28, 2017, death of John Hernandez after a confrontation outside Denny’s restaurant on Crosby Freeway in northeast Houston.
Terry Thompson stood and took a deep breath before the jury returned to the courtroom and gave Judge Kelli Johnson the verdict just before 2 p.m. Monday.
After the verdict was read, Thompson took a seat next to his defense attorney. Johnson polled the jury on the verdict.
Thompson was then seen mouthing the words “I love you” to someone in the audience. Moments later, deputies took Thompson back into custody.
He will spend the night in the Harris County Jail before his sentencing hearing.
Hernandez’s family and friends waited in the courtroom to see Thompson return to custody. Family members of Hernandez said the verdict has given them closure.
"We just needed some of that closure," said Diana Escalante, a relative of Hernandez. "That closure to see that they were actually going to handcuff him and take him away like any other person. Not like someone who is married to someone who is a part of the justice system."
Reacting to the verdict, Harris County First Assistant District Attorney Tom Berg said, "We are vindicated by this verdict. That doesn't mean that we're happy. Because we can't put everything back together for this poor family that we would like to."
The sentencing is expected to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Thompson faces up to life in prison.
Thompson’s first trial ended in a mistrial after 11 of 12 jurors decided he was not guilty of murder. Ten decided he was also not guilty of the lesser manslaughter charge. Eight jurors decided Thompson was not even guilty of the lowest possible charge -- criminally negligent homicide.
Thompson put Hernandez in a chokehold, while Chauna Thompson is accused of holding Hernandez down