Antonio Armstrong Jr. trial: Brother’s ex-girlfriend gives emotional testimony during murder re-trial

‘The evidence was within the walls of the house’: Lead homicide detective on case also takes the stand

HOUSTON – It’s the second week of Antonio Armstrong Jr.’s third capital murder trial.

So far, we’ve heard from over 20 witnesses in the case where AJ is accused of murdering his parents, Antonio Sr. and Dawn in 2016.

KPRC 2 will be live daily inside the courtroom and will document new details along with everything you should know.

Aug. 9 - 5:09 p.m.

Court is in recess until 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Aug. 9 - 2:30 p.m.

The 25th witness is called to the stand, Kenneth Daignault with the Houston Police Department’s Homicide Division.

Daignault was the lead homicide detective for the Armstrong case. During his testimony, Daignault said all windows of the Armstrong residence were secure and no point of entry was ever detected. He also said there was no forced entry into any of the doors at the residence.

Recalling his first interview with AJ after his parent’s murder, Daignault said there were several inconsistencies in AJ’s story, and that he was emotionless during his interview and on his 911 call. When Daignault said he told AJ he was being charged, he responded, “What evidence you got.”

During the cross-examination, the defense pointed out that Daignault and his team did not do a full investigation, saying constantly, “You made up your mind and you’re sticking to it.”

The defense pointed out that no interviews were ever conducted outside of the first interviews done hours after the murders and Pilon two years later.

When speaking of Josh, Daignault said he was never looked into as a suspect because the “evidence never led to him.”

Aug. 9 - 10:39 a.m.

The 24th witness is called to the stand, Hannah Pilon, the former girlfriend of Josh Armstrong.

Pilon was in a relationship with Josh for two years. She said they met at Blinn College. She described Josh as loving and caring. Pilon said Josh planned to move back to Houston after attending Blinn for a year so he could go to the art institute and study music.

Pilon recalled the night the Armstrongs were murdered. She said she was at Josh’s apartment, which is located two minutes away from his parent’s home, with him and his cousin, Trenton. She said Josh and Trenton were playing video games so she decided to go to sleep around 10 or 11 p.m.

Hours later, Pilon said she was awakened by a frantic Josh who said, “Babe, babe! Wake up! Someone’s in the house.” She said Josh then grabbed his shotgun and ran out of the house with Trenton.

Pilon said she then called 911 and informed them that there was a shooting at Josh’s parents’ residence.

Pilon said over the next month or two, Josh’s mental health drastically declined. She recalled him being extremely paranoid and depressed, even creating a list of people who he thought could’ve murdered his parents. Pilon said Josh added her name to the list, along with his cousin Trenton.

In December 2019, Josh was checked into Ben Taub Hospital at the urging of his grandmother.

According to the Ben Taub report, Josh was admitted for paranoia and depression. Josh admitted to using alcohol and marijuana and feeling suicidal ever since his parents’ murder. Josh also told the hospital he had recently lost his best friend and a dog at the same time. Josh said he was depressed because his brother was being charged with murdering his parents, but did not believe he did it. He said he believed his cousin, Trenton (who was with him the night the Armstrongs were murdered) could’ve killed his parents. Also, Josh said he was depressed because his mother told him at 13 years old that Antonio Sr. wasn’t his biological father.

After a two-hour break from Judge Johnson, the defense begins cross-examining Pilon. Pilon, who seemed to be very agitated, during the cross wanted to make it clear that Josh never showed signs of mental illness before the murder of his parents.

After the murder of Josh’s parents, she said he started excusing everyone of murdering them and became very paranoid trying to figure out what happened. She also said Trenton, the cousin who was with Josh on the night his parents were killed, disappeared and deleted all of his social media after the crimes.

Aug. 9 - 10:28 a.m.

The 23rd witness is called to the stand, Lester Blizzard, a prosecutor with the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office and former prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Blizzard handled AJ’s evidence during his first trial in 2019. According to attorney Rick DeToto, he possibly cross-contaminated evidence while handling multiple items without gloves.

During Blizzard’s testimony, he confirmed he was not wearing gloves while touching the bloody pillows and then touching AJ’s shirt.

Since the trial in 2019, Blizzard said he has had no involvement in the case and has not reviewed the evidence since.

Aug. 9 - 9:11 a.m.

The 22nd witness was called to the stand, John Brewer, the Chief of Economics Crime Division for the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office.

Brewer was the lead prosecutor for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in 2019 during the first AJ Armstrong trial.

During Brewer’s testimony, he discussed the DA’s Office procedure for collecting property in preparation for trial, specifically, the AJ trial in 2019. Brewer said the evidence was taken from the Houston Police Department’s evidence room and transported to the DA’s Office where it was then secured by a homicide detective in the DA’s Office and placed in a secure room.

Brewer recalled the AJ trial in 2019, admitting that his co-counselor at the time, Lester Blizzard, touched some of the evidence, including the shirt and pillow, without gloves.

During the cross-examination by the defense, Brewer was shown several images from the 2019 trial, which showed his co-counselor Blizzard, touching AJ’s shirt and the bloody pillows without gloves. Photos of Blizzard holding a comforter, a Texas A&M pillow and a blanket without gloves were also shown to jurors.

Rick DeToto also showed the jury and Brewer images from the 2019 trial where Blizzard was holding AJ’s shirt by the collar, possibly damaging the sticker area. He also presented images where Blizzard said he could see the bottom portion of the sticker detaching from the shirt in 2019.

Aug. 9 - 9:10 a.m.

The jury enters the courtroom.

Aug. 9 - 8:55 a.m.

Judge Kelli Johnson enters the courtroom room. Court is called into order.

Get a full recap of each day with the trial blogs:

About the Author: