Inside job – ‘The killer didn’t come from outside the house’
Antonio ‘AJ’ Armstrong Jr, 19, is charged with capital murder in July 2016 shooting deaths of his parents, Antonio and Dawn Armstrong
Prosecutors said house alarms and motion detectors indicated that 19-year-old AJ killed his father parents in their home in Bellaire, Texas, on July 29, 2016
AJ has maintained his innocence, claiming there was an intruder in his home
Prosecutor said during opening statements house alarms and motion detectors indicated AJ killed his parents
Defense countered by saying investigators decided early on the teen was the killer
AJ’s attorney told the jury his older brother, Josh, lived just minutes away, could access the house and had a history of disturbing behavior
The defendant was 16 years old at the time of the double homicide, now aged 19, he is being tried as an adult on counts of two counts of capital murder
Faces a life sentence with a possibility of parole after 40 years, if convicted of capital murder
Domestic murder suspect Antonio ‘AJ’ Armstrong Jr, 19, arrives court in Houston on Tuesday is pictured in court on Day 1 of his double-homicide trial
Opening statements were presented Tuesday morning of shooting dead both of his parents in 2016. .
The teenage son of a retired NFL player is on trial ‘for murdering both his parents as they slept’, as his defense team tries to shift the blame on his troubled older brother.
A.J. is accused of shooting his mother, Dawn, and father, Antonio, to death as they slept at their home on Palmetto at Mapleridge in southwest Houston on July 29 , 2016
Antonio Armstrong Jr, 19, is pictured in court on Day 1 of his capital murder trial stemming from the 2016 deaths of his parents Dawn and Anthony Armstrong Sr.
According to the prosecution case “Dawn, the defendant’s mother was on the left side of the bed, and she was shot twice in the head while she laid there safe and sound and healthy,” prosecutor John Brewer said. “She probably never knew it was her son that killed her.”
Their son, who is now 19, has always maintained his innocence in their deaths and pleaded not guilty to the capital murder charges against him.
Prosecutors said house alarms and motion detectors indicated that 19-year-old Antonio ‘AJ’ Armstrong Jr killed his father, Antonio Armstrong Sr, and his mother, Dawn, in their home in Bellaire, Texas, three years ago
AJ Armstrong claimed that there was a masked intruder inside his family’s home on the night of the killings.
Antonio Armstrong Sr [second right] and his wife, Dawn [second left] were shot dead as they slept allegedly by their son AJ [far right], he has claimed there was an intruder in the home
A prosecutor said during opening statements that house alarms and motion detectors indicated that an insider, [AJ], killed his parents in their home in Bellaire, Texas
However, jurors were told during opening statements that no one forced their way into the home and that AJ was the only person detected walking towards his parents’ second-floor bedroom just moments before the shooting.
‘The killer didn’t come from outside the house,’ Harris County Assistant District Attorney John Brewer said. ‘The alarm tells us more than just the killer came from inside the house. The alarm tells us that the killer came from upstairs.’
Prosecutors focused on the Armstrong’s alarm system. Brewer said that the alarm never went off, even though A.J. told police he saw a masked intruder inside the home.
Brewer said that police looked at motion detector records and learned that the killer came from upstairs. The upstairs motion detectors didn’t go off until 1:09 a.m., about 30 minutes before A.J. called 911 and said he heard shots in his parents’ room.
Brewster added that Dawn Armstrong was shot twice in the head and died likely not knowing ‘it was her son that killed her,’ KTRK-TV reported.
AJ Armstrong was 16 years old at the time of the double homicide. Now aged 19, he is being tried as an adult on counts of capital murder. He has always maintained his innocence.
Defense attorney Rick DeToto countered the prosecution’s statements by claiming that investigators decided early on that the teen killed his parents as they slept, then contorted the case to fit their opinion.
DeToto also told the court his client’s DNA and fingerprints were not found on the gun recovered from the scene, and that his parents’ blood was not on him, reported KPRC.
When police arrived at their home at 1.40am, they found a gun in the kitchen along with a note which read: ‘I have been watching you for some time.’
Police said they believed Antonio Jr, who called himself AJ, wrote the note to try to move suspicion off of him.
In his statement, the defense lawyer pointed out that AJ’s older brother, Josh, lived just two minutes away from their parents’ house and that he refused to provide an alibi for the night of the killings, yet he was never considered a suspect.
‘Confirmation bias and reasonable doubt is weaved throughout this whole case,” DeToto said. ‘They accused AJ of murdering his parents before all the evidence was in.’
DeToto argued that Josh Armstrong had a history of disturbing behavior, including multiple trips to psychiatric institutions over the past three years, and that he allegedly had access to his parents’ residence.
Antonio Armstrong Sr. [left and seen with his wife Dawn on the right], was a standout linebacker for Texas A&M and had brief stints with the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins.The couple owned a chain of gyms
‘You’re going to hear evidence that he’s suicidal. You’re going to hear evidence that he’s homicidal. You’re going to hear evidence that he’s catatonic. You’re going to hear evidence that he has a woman in his head that he’s trying to kill,’ AJ’s lawyer told the court.
Antonio Armstrong Sr was a standout linebacker for Texas A&M and a first-team All-American who was taken in the sixth round of the 1995 NFL draft. He had brief stints with the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins.
At the time of their deaths, Antonio and Dawn Armstrong, both aged 42, were well known in the community and owned a small chain of fitness centers.
Antonio Armstrong Sr. graduated from Kashmere High School, played football in college and was in the National Football League for a short time. He was also the assistant pastor at his mother’s Gulfton-area church.
In the weeks before their deaths, Antonio and Dawn had caught AJ smoking marijuana and had taken away his phone and car keys as punishment, according to prosecutors.
AJ had been under-performing academically and had been taken out of private school to be enrolled in a public school, where he had failed to start on the football team.
If convicted of capital murder, AJ will face a life sentence with a possibility of parole after 40 years, reported Chron.com. The death penalty is not on the table for the defendant because he was a minor at the time of the killings.
Armstrong Jr’s trial is expected to last about a month.