Third panel called to find more potential jurors for the Armstrong Jr. trial

4 out of 10 potential jurors asked to come back for Antonio Armstrong Jr.’s trial

HOUSTON – The 178th Criminal Court was filled with potential jurors for the third trial against Antonio Armstrong Jr. Harris County District Attorneys are accusing him of killing his parents, Dawn and Antonio Armstrong Sr. At the time of the murders, Armstrong Jr. was 16 years old.

The court called upon a third panel of 65 new potential jurors for a group voir dire. This part of voir dire allows Judge Kelli Johnson and attorneys from both sides to learn generic information about juror’s feelings towards specific subjects.

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

Judge Johnson began by introducing everyone in the courtroom. She wanted to know if the jurors knew anything about the case.

Raising their hands, 20 jurors told the judge they did hear about the case through local media. Of those 20, six shared they formed a conclusion about the case. Three others explained they formed an opinion but could set aside that opinion and be objective if selected.

Judge Johnson then asked if jurors would have a problem being involved in a case where they may send the defendant to jail, and 10 jurors told her they couldn’t live with that decision.

After a 30-minute break, Harris County Assistant District Attorney John Jordan began inquiring about the jurors for the state. He asked if they would be comfortable with a life sentence with parole after 40 years, and 18 jurors told him they weren’t comfortable with that sentencing.

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Fourteen jurors explained they had an issue with someone between the ages of 16-17 being tried as an adult.

At least 13 jurors told him they wanted to see a motive in the case.

When sending a person to prison, 21 jurors told him they have to be 100 percent sure before committing to a decision.

Because the trial may have circumstantial, direct, and scientific evidence, Jordan wanted to know what jurors expected to see during the trial. Eighteen of them told him they required scientific or direct evidence in a case of this magnitude.

One juror interrupted the proceedings to explain their personal bias. The juror explained they made up their mind during the group voir dire, adding, “If you use a gun, you’re guilty.”

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When the state wrapped up, Defense Attorney Rick Detoto walked over and thanked Armstrong Jr.’s three grandparents for being there. He questioned jurors about tunnel vision and how that could be a problem when deciding a case.

Detoto brought out a 30-pound weight, sharing it was the burden the state has to prove his client’s guilt without a reason of doubt.

By the end of the day, 23 of the 65 potential jurors will return for individual voir dire. This will afford attorneys and the judge a more intimate conversation about potential jurors’ beliefs.

Judge Johnson wants 50 potential jurors for the final part of voir dire on May 31st. That’s when 12 jurors plus alternates will be selected to return for the third trial against Antonio Armstrong Jr.


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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.