HOUSTON – Antonio “A.J.” Armstrong Jr. has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Houston while a jury is currently deliberating his fate in his third capital murder trial.
This comes after prosecutors and the defense finished their closing arguments, which lasted about four hours in total.
In the lawsuit, Armstrong and his attorney, Randall Kallinen, stated that the city “violated the substantive and procedural Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by planting DNA/Blood evidence on Plaintiff’s clothes thereby, causing the malicious criminal prosecution of Plaintiff.”
Attorneys and A.J. allege that during this case, the city violated his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
Watch the Armstrong family’s press conference about the lawsuit below.
It goes on to state, “Considering the foregoing, and the following, the blood was planted by, or in conspiracy with, one or more persons at the HPD in order to try and convict Armstrong of capital murder and to taint his reputation in the mind of the public.”
Additionally, the lawsuit states that Armstrong is suing for mental anguish, pain, and suffering, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, embarrassment, humiliation, and loss of reputation.
In response to the lawsuit, the president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, Doug Griffith, gave the following statement: “We believe that this is nothing more than a tactic that can be used to appeal should there be a conviction in the case. We believe that the jury has heard all of the evidence and will come to a proper and impartial decision. There is absolutely no proof in the allegations made by Mr. Armstrong’s attorney, and we stand by the hard work of our dedicated Homicide Investigators.”
The DNA evidence, which has been one of the main factors in this trial, came after prosecutors said a Montgomery County Blood Spatter Expert who they had reviewing the case, stumbled upon the evidence while examining AJ’s shirt. This information came one day before the third trial was set to begin, pushing things back for several weeks.
A.J.’s attorney Rick DeToto, from the first day of the trial, said the DNA evidence was possibly a result of cross-contamination, calling it “meaningless” during his closing arguments.
“Considering the foregoing, and the following, the blood was planted by, or in conspiracy with, one or more persons at the HPD in order to try and convict Armstrong of capital murder and to taint his reputation in the mind of the public. There is a long history of planting evidence by the City of Houston Police. In all probability, one or more individuals purposely caused the deposition of Antonio Armstrong Sr.’s blood on the back of the name tag or underneath the name tag on Antonio’s t-shirt while it was in the HPD Property Room or otherwise in HPD’s possession,” the lawsuit read, in part.
In a video from HPD’s property room, which was shown to jurors on day six of the trial, Blood Spatter Expert Celestina Rossi, the lead homicide detective on the A.J. investigation, Kenneth Daignault, and HPD Homicide Detective Andrew Barr were all seen examining A.J.’s t-shirt. DeToto pointed out in his opening statements, in one part of that video, all three officers’ backs were turned away from the camera, blocking the view for a short period of time.
A.J. is accused of killing his mother, Dawn, and father, former NFL player Antonio Armstrong Sr., as the couple slept at their home in the 5300 block of Palmetto Street on July 28, 2016.
A.J., now 23 years old and married with a child, was only 16 years old at the time of the murders.
The brutal slayings left a community and family divided on whether he was capable of committing the crime.
A first mistrial was declared in 2019 because, after three days of deliberation, the jury back then could not reach a unanimous agreement. Eight jurors believed A.J. was guilty, but four jurors voted not guilty.
A second mistrial was declared in October 2022.