Antonio “A.J.” Armstrong, Jr. is heading back to trial in February 2023, accused of killing his mother and ex-NFL player father. In 2016, Antonio and Dawn Armstrong were shot and killed in their Houston area home in the upscale neighborhood of Bellaire as they slept. A handwritten note on the kitchen counter read, “I HAVE BEEN WATCHING FOR A LONG TIME.”
Armstrong Sr. was a college football defensive for Texas A&M and played briefly in the NFL for the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers in the mid-nineties coached both of his sons when they were younger.
With no sign of forced entry, police zoned in on the murdered couple’s then-16-year-old son, AJ. Along with his younger sister, Kayra, the two children were the only ones home with their parents, and he claims he heard gunshots and saw an intruder leaving. However, the .22 caliber gun used belonged to the deceased Antonio, Sr.
AJ Armstrong has maintained his innocence in his parents' 2016 deaths but remains charged following two criminal trials that have ended with hung juries.
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) January 7, 2023
A Curious Case
A.J. called 911, and after assessing his statement and the 911 recording where he said, “it’s all my fault,” during the call, he was booked into juvenile detention and charged with capital murder. The results of his first trial in 2019 ended in a mistrial. Jurors couldn’t agree on a verdict, with eight jurors believing he was guilty and four thinking he was innocent.
He recently declared his innocence again in a 2020 special about the murder and trials.
“There’s no way possible. I couldn’t even fathom the idea of killing my parents,” Armstrong said during the 2020 special.
Still, Harris County took him to a second trial and received the opposite jury outcome, with eight jurors believing him innocent and four thinking him guilty. The jurors in the second trial pointed to the reasonable doubt created by the defense as the reason they came back with a hung jury.
“It just got to the point where I couldn’t even talk anymore,” an anonymous juror said to local KHOU 11. “Everyone kind of had their mind made up, but it was very frustrating to hear everyone say — and I mean everyone, say, ‘We know he’s not innocent but we still have doubt.'”
Now 23 years old and adamant that he did not kill his parents, Texas is not giving up and taking him back to trial in February. Jury selection begins on February 24, with testimonies not being heard until March 20. His grandparents have asked the court to drop the charges.
“We have stood by our grandson’s side every day since 2016,” Armstrong Jr.’s grandfather, Keith Wiley, said to the media. “Everyone in the family supports him and believes he’s innocent of the charges. Our family hurts and grieves.”
A Family Divided
The prosecutors are painting a picture of A.J. as a troubled teen who began bringing home bad grades and smoking cannabis. Additionally, a gunshot through his bedroom floor ended up in his parents’ ceiling, leading prosecutors to believe he was premeditating an attack. Having been on house arrest for years, he is now a father.
A.J.’s defense team presented his half-brother Josh Armstrong as a potential suspect based on his medical records for mental health instability. Josh could enter the house undetected and lived a few minutes away from his parents’ home.
Will a third trial result in an acquittal or find A.J. Armstrong guilty? The results will come out in a few months, hopefully with closure to a case that has torn apart a family.