27 jurors returning for final jury panel selection in AJ Armstrong case

Houston – On Tuesday, 65 new potential jurors in a group setting got questioned in the case against Antonio Armstrong Jr.

The State of Texas indicted Armstrong for the murders of his parents, Dawn and Antonio Sr., in 2016. Armstrong Jr. was tried twice before, with both cases resulting in hung juries.

Judge Kelli Johnson during AJ Armstrong trial. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Because the case garnered local and national media attention, Judge Kelli Johnson spent much of Tuesday morning identifying who saw what and how much information they knew.

14 jurors shared that they either heard about the case or the Armstrong family.

“I’ve seen a lot of media coverage,” one juror said.

Judge Johnson followed up asking, “Do you have an opinion on this case?”

The juror replied, “I do. I have a feeling about the trial happening again.”

Another juror got emotional and apologetic with the judge, explaining she researched the cases and followed it with her family.

“I’m sorry but I can’t,” the juror said. “I just see my son sitting there.”

Hearing happening Monday in AJ Armstrong case to determine if third trial should be held in Harris County

While most of the 14 jurors shared they saw little coverage of the cases, 11 shared they did not have a conclusion on the case.

One juror told the judge, “I’d be interested in knowing more about it.”

Four people shared they have a negative bias toward capital murder cases. Some sharing it was because a family member was killed or shot.

One juror told Harris County prosecutor John Jordan they had shaped a feeling when first hearing the words ‘capital murder.’

This case involves a sentence of automatic life with parole eligibility after 40 years. When jurors heard that from prosecutors, seven shared they cannot take part in the case.

10 others had a problem with 14-16-year-olds being tried as an adult.

Because this case involves reasonable doubt, 11 jurors shared they needed to have a motive in deciding the case. 15 jurors shared there was a higher burden for the state to prove their case, and five people shared negative feelings towards law enforcement.

Jury selection will begin next month for AJ Armstrong's third trial

Sitting in the courtroom as a show of support for Armstrong Jr. were his grandparents and wife. Each shared a gesture of thanks before the defense attorney Rick Detoto began his part in the voir dire process.

Detoto began by sharing a personal story about why our legal system is the best in the world. During that story, he told jurors about the ‘cloak of innocence.’ He said that in America, everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

He then put the blanket on Armstrong Jr. indicating it was his ‘cloak of innocence’ saying, “You can remove it, only if you believe the evidence proves beyond a reason of doubt.”

When the group questioning was over, four prosecutors and four defense attorneys met with Judge Johnson to determine who will move forward to the final selection where they will conduct individual voir dire.

Judge Johnson is whittling down large groups of potential jurors to ensure the final selection can be impartial and only make a decision based on what is presented in court.

This means 27 jurors will return to court through the end of May when the jury panel is seated.

About the Author:

As an Emmy award-winning journalist, Jason strives to serve the community by telling in-depth stories and taking on challenges many pass over. When he’s not working, he’s spending time with his girlfriend Rosie, and dog named Dug.