HOUSTON - Separate trial dates have been set for a former Harris County deputy and her husband for the beating death of a man at a Sheldon-area Denny’s.
Chauna and Terry Thompson are charged with murder in the 2016 death of John Hernandez.
Terry is scheduled to stand trial on May 18, and Chauna on June 1.
Hernandez’s family was in court Thursday as the couple faced a judge.
“It just makes me angry because they’re out, they’re free, they’re living their life, and my nephew Johnny is gone," said Wendy Malonado, the victim's aunt. "We’re not here to hurt them, we’re not a violent family, all we want is justice."
Terry Thompson is the man seen on video restraining Hernandez in a chokehold outside the restaurant. Chauna Thompson helped restrain the victim and didn't stop her husband from choking him, according to the indictment.
The medical examiner ruled Hernandez, 24, died from strangulation and chest compression.
Thompson confronted Hernandez after seeing him urinating outside the restaurant. Witnesses said he beat and restrained Hernandez even after he was clearly unconscious. They said Hernandez was too drunk to defend himself against the much larger Thompson.
Hernandez's wife and 3-year-old daughter begged Thompson to stop but he and his wife ignored their pleas.
“She was crying and telling (the man beating Hernandez) stop and he didn’t even stop,” Hernandez’s wife said after her husband's death. “I told him, 'Please stop. Don’t do that to him. He’s drunk.' He wasn’t in any position to fight. But, he didn’t have any compassion. He was really angry.”
The cell phone video released by attorneys for the Hernandez family sparked outrage and protests.
Hundreds of supporters marched through the streets of Houston, calling for "justice for John."They demanded murder charges after the disturbing cell phone videos surfaced. Many felt Thompson was being protected because of his wife's job.
A grand jury found probable cause after hearing evidence for nearly eight hours.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s office provided jurors testimony from 12 witnesses, videos of the fight, autopsy results and medical examiner findings.
Chauna Thompson was fired by the Harris County sheriff after she was indicted.
The Thompson's attorney said they were the victims of a mob mentality.
If convicted, the Thompsons face five years to life in prison.
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