HOUSTON – Questions surrounding two potential jurors in Harris County’s case against Antonio Armstrong Jr. came to a halt Tuesday.
Armstrong is being tried for a third time for the murder of his parents, Dawn and Antonio Armstrong Sr., in 2016.
On Friday, a juror who works in ethics and human resources was called to court and questioned over the information she heard from her boss and a coworker.
The juror called the bailiff to speak with Judge Kelli Johnson about what she heard on two different occasions.
At the time, the juror said before being selected for jury service, her boss brought up the case and mentioned their kids went to the same school as the Armstrongs.
The second issue dealt with a lunch the juror was having with a coworker but claimed she shut the conversation down.
Official records of the phone call were given to the state and defense attorneys.
“It was one of those unusual voir dire’s,” prosecutor John Jordan told the court. “We believe the record is clear on what the deputy heard.”
The prosecution alluded to the juror ‘vacillating,’ meaning the juror was indecisive in her replies.
“They don’t like this juror, and they are trying to get rid of her,“ Defense attorney Rick DeToto argued. “What’s her motive to do that? Is she trying to sneak on the jury?”
Judge Johnson denied the state’s motion to remove the juror on cause.
The morning wrapped up with testing the courtroom hearing impaired system. One potential juror has a problem hearing Jordan’s voice because of his tonal pitch.
During the past two weeks, Judge Johnson worked with county staff to make the system was adequate for the juror if he is selected.
Jordan was asked to move around the courtroom to test the microphones using various tones. The juror wouldn’t say he could hear 100 percent of what Jordan was saying because the system got louder after the first initial words.
The state played videos of ASMR whispers and phone calls to see if they were something the juror could hear, to which the juror replied, “Absolutely.”
“This is very helpful,” the juror told the judge. " I was able to follow along.”
Outside of the juror’s presence, Jordan moved to strike the juror. He told the judge he would have to reevaluate how he would try the case based on the microphone system.
“I’m being handcuffed,” Jordan said. “One side is being disadvantaged because of a disability.”
Judge Johnson asked if both sides would like to hear the audio recordings during the testing adding, “It’s much better than both sides thinks it is.”
Johnson denied the motion and continued telling both parties “plan on where to put the microphones.”
The court will resume with the 48 potential jurors selected from three panels on May 31st. That is the day the court will acknowledge the 12 jurors plus four alternates for the trial against Armstrong Jr.