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Prosecutor: Ex-deputy's husband was aggressor in fatal confrontation outside Denny's

Fatal beating video

HOUSTON -- A prosecutor told jurors that a former sheriff's deputy's husband was the aggressor in a fatal confrontation involving the couple outside a Houston-area Denny's restaurant. But a defense attorney says Terry Thompson was acting in self-defense when he used a non-strangulating hold to subdue a man who had attacked him. 

Both sides gave their opening statements Wednesday in Thompson's murder trial.

His wife, Chauna Thompson, is set for trial in October on a murder charge. She was a Harris County deputy at the time and was later fired.

The couple is accused of holding John Hernandez in a chokehold for up to 15 minutes during a confrontation in May 2017. Hernandez later died.

Defense attorney Scot Courtney says Hernandez was drunk and threw the first punch, and that Terry Thompson was defending himself.

Chauna and Terry Thompson KHOU

"John Hernandez balls up his fist and smacks him in the eye," defense attorney Scot Courtney told jurors during opening statements, reports the Houston Chronicle. "His response was his 'fatal mistake.'"  

But Harris County Assistant District Attorney Jules Johnson reportedly said Hernandez was trying to get back inside the restaurant when Thompson blocked his way and then put him in a chokehold.  

"He continued to hold this chokehold until it is confirmed that Mr. Hernandez is no longer breathing," Johnson said.  

A waitress who witnessed the altercation told CBS affiliate KHOU at the time that she and her manager begged Thompson to stop choking the victim after he turned purple.  

Cellphone video recorded by a bystander shows a man who appears to be Terry Thompson lying on top of Hernandez.   

The medical examiner ruled Hernandez, 24, died from strangulation and chest compression.

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