HOUSTON – On Day 1 and Day 2, several things were discovered during opening statements from both prosecutors and the defense team and the first set of witnesses.
The new DNA evidence that caused a delay at the start of the trial took the spotlight, but other important details were also discussed.
We heard a lot about AJ’s brother, Josh Armstrong’s mental health, along with the alarm system at the residence and the Houston Police Department’s response and investigation.
KPRC 2 will be live daily inside the courtroom and will document new details along with everything you should know.
Aug. 1 - 5:55 p.m.
Judge Johnson ended day 2 of the trial. Day 3 is set to begin Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. with former Lt. Dodson back on the stand.
Aug. 1 - 4:51 p.m.
The fifth witness of the day was called to the stand, former HPD Homicide Lt. Jimmy Dodson.
Dodson said he was initially tasked with going to the hospital to check on Antonio Sr., which he was informed by doctors would pass away soon. Dodson was then moved back to the homicide scene to interview the Armstrong family. Before interviewing the family, he testified that he did a walk-through of the residence and noticed a few things: no damage to any of the doors, which he said meant there were no signs of forced entry; a hole in the ceiling of the couples room; a pile of clothes in AJ’s room, which covered a hole that led to the hole in his parent’s room; a gun on the kitchen counter along with a note that read: “I have been watching you for a long time. Come get me.”
He also pointed out how clean the downstairs of the residence was, and said although the drawers in the kitchen were pulled out, they didn’t seem like they had been run through.
He said he interviewed Josh Armstrong, AJ’s 12-year-old sister, Antonio Sr.’s mother, Dawn’s mother and Dawn’s brother.
Aug. 1 - 3:42 p.m.
The fourth witness, the Harris County Criminal Law Hearing Officer, was called to the stand. She was the first person to speak with AJ and read him his rights in a language he could understand. The recording of the officer reading AJ his rights and his responses were played in court. In the audio recording, AJ was informed his mother had passed away and he could be heard asking about his dad’s condition.
The officer described AJ as being polite and showing concern for his father during her interaction with him.
Aug. 1 - 10:57 a.m.
The third witness, Nathan Gates, who works for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Digital Forensics Investigation Unit, was called to the stand.
He was in charge of pulling all communication used from technology, which means 911 calls, text messages, phone calls, etc.
During this time, prosecutors read a plethora of text messages between AJ, his father, his mother and his girlfriend at the time, now wife, Kate. Several of the conversations between AJ and his family showed him lying about going to see his girlfriend, sneaking out of the house, making bad grades, smoking weed and drinking. In one of the messages, AJ’s mother Dawn said, “All you do is drink, smoke and lie.”
Prosecutors showed a text message from AJ to Kate on July 27, two days before the murder, in which he admitted to attempting to set his family’s home on fire. In the text message to Kate, he said he was playing with matches and accidentally set the carpet on fire and blamed his sister. Gates said phone communication between AJ and his family drastically dropped during the week of the murder.
No threatening or violent text messages were found, Gates testified.
Aug. 1 - 9:25 a.m.
The second witness, HPD officer Logan Weber, was called to the stand. Weber has been with HPD for eight years. He was partners with Officer Larzo Maldonado, the first witness to take the stand in the trial.
Weber said he was dispatched to the scene at 1:43 a.m. and arrived at 1:46 a.m. He testified that when he arrived at the Armstrong residence, the scene was very dark and calm. He said he and his partner waited on a sergeant to arrive before entering the residence.
When asked about AJ’s demeanor that night, the officer said he remembers him being very calm.
Weber’s testimony was highly fixated on the amount of time he spent with AJ since he and his partner were in charge of transporting him to the homicide office. Weber was also the officer who placed the sticker on AJ, the same sticker which contained the DNA evidence that was recently discovered by prosecutors. During the trial, AJ’s lawyer asked Officer Weber to demonstrate how he put the sticker on AJ that night. Officer Weber also testified that he did not see any blood on AJ.
Aug. 1 - 8:57 a.m.
The first witness of the day was called to the stand, HPD Sgt. Tavis Parkerson. Parkerson, who has been with HPD for 23 years, was the only other sergeant to respond to the Armstrong residence on the night of the murder. He said he was dispatched at 1:44 a.m. and arrived around 1:55 a.m.
During his testimony, it was revealed that he was the officer who unlocked the back door of the Armstrong residence, which helps back prosecutors claim that no one broke into the Armstrong residence and that the home was completely locked and secure when officers arrived.
While being questioned by AJ’s attorney, it was revealed that Officer Parkerson did not follow protocol by not writing a report after the crime scene. The defense then questioned if he remembered every detail from that night, putting his “unlocking the back door claim” into question.
The officer also claimed that another officer picked up the weapon, which was on the kitchen counter, possibly contaminating the scene.
Aug. 1 - 8:55 a.m.
The jury entered the courtroom.
Aug. 1 - 8:44 a.m.
Judge Kelli Johnson entered the courtroom.