HOUSTON – Thursday is Day 4 of Antonio Armstrong Jr.’s third murder re-trial.
We’re picking up where we left off, speaking to the senior vice president of alarm.com after Judge Kelli Johnson decided to suddenly break early on Day 3.
On Day 1 and Day 2, several things were discovered during opening statements from prosecutors, 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, the residence’s alarm system, 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. 3 - 4:00 p.m.
Judge Kelli Johnson breaks early. Court will begin Friday at 8:30 a.m.
Aug. 3 - 3:11 p.m.
The eleventh witness is called to the stand, Houston Police Department Sgt. Jimmy Jones. Jones, who has been with HPD for 12 years. He was assigned to the crime scene unit on the night of July 29, 2016.
Jones said he arrived at the Armstrong residence two hours after patrol officers arrived. He said his role as a crime scene officer was to collect and photograph all evidence from the scene.
During this time, prosecutors showed the jury a plethora of images Jones took of the crime scene. Some of the main pieces of evidence were also brought out in court, including the gun that was found on the kitchen counter, along with the handwritten note that read: “I’ve been watching you for a very long time.” The burned piece of carpet, the gun box located in Antonio Sr.’s drawer with bullets, and the pillows that were allegedly placed over Antonio Sr.’s and Dawn’s heads before the shootings.
When taking the pillows out of the box, the defense team asked to look into the box and keep the box for cross-examination. (IDuring opening statements, AJ’s lawyer claimed that the new DNA found possibly came from cross-contamination during one of the previous trials when a former prosecutor was handling the pillows, which Rick DeToto says has dried up blood on it that releases “flakes,” were held over AJ’s shirt.
Aug. 3 - 2:00 p.m.
The prosecutors recalled Jason DaCosta to the stand.
Aug. 3 - 11:40 a.m.
The tenth witness is called to the stand, an ADT engineer, Tim Rader.
Rader testified that there were approximately three protected doors inside the Armstrongs residence: the front door, the garage door and the backdoor. He also said there were two alarm panels inside the home, one located downstairs and the second inside Antonio Sr.’s room.
During Rader’s testimony, he spoke a lot about motion sensors, and how they operate. He said they usually pick up on heat and movement combined, not one without the other. He also testified the type of motion detectors that were located in the living room and second floor of the Armstrong residence had a 35 feet reach, and were placed at least seven feet above the floor.
When the defense asked Rader if the motion detector located on the first floor of the Armstrong home would pick up someone entering the front door or garage (which are on the same circuit), Rader answered no and demonstrated where there was a block in the motion sensors view at the home due to being placed behind a curtain. He also made it a point to reiterate the motion detectors were set in place and could not be moved or altered.
Rader testified that there were no records from ADT of any doors, windows or alarms being altered or going off on July 29, 2016, from 9:52 p.m. until AJ turned the alarm off around 1:56 a.m.
Aug. 3 - 8:30 a.m.
The defense team questioned Jason DaCosta, the senior vice president at alarm.com. DaCosta explained his role in this case, saying he was in charge of pulling records for the Armstrong trial in 2019-2020, as well as the current one, and examining the records.
Although DaCosta testified to the accuracy of the reports, saying there was only a 1% chance of inconsistencies, AJ’s attorneys called out several inaccuracies from the month of July 2016, but none on the actual day of the murder, July 29, 2016. DaCosta said the Armstrongs use their alarm system “more than usual, almost commercial-like.”
The prosecution team then recrossed and presented a scenario, which showed how the alarm system tracked AJ’s movements and how he lied about them to his mother. In one of the instances, AJ was caught sneaking out of his home to see his girlfriend and lying to his parents about it. The prosecution team was able to match up AJ’s text message thread to the alarm system, pointing out the exact time he disarmed the alarm and lifted up the garage, to the time he sent a text message to his girlfriend saying he was on the way.
Aug. 3 - 8:30 a.m.
The jury enters the courtroom.
Aug. 3 - 8:30 a.m.
Judge Johnson enters the courtroom and the court is called into order.
Aug. 2 - 4:00 p.m.
Judge Johnson briefly speaks to the prosecution team and the defense team and decides to recess court until Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m.