What we learned from juror notes in the 2022 AJ Armstrong trial

Third jury panel will take up capital murder case Tuesday

Jurors shared notes with the court while deliberating in the 2nd capital murder trial of AJ Armstrong. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Jurors are now deliberating on whether prosecutors successfully argued their case in the Antonio Armstrong Jr. murder trial of his parents, Dawn and Antonio Senior.

In two previous trials, jurors deadlocked on Armstrong’s innocence, ending in a mistrial.

KPRC 2 launched an in-depth coverage plan to provide analysis and insight into the Armstrong case, as well as the broader criminal justice system in Harris County. This multiplatform coverage is called ‘The Bench.’

RELATED: Are you fluent in legalese? Get the lingo down before the verdict.

As part of that coverage, KPRC 2 Investigates reviewed previous juror notes sent to the court during deliberations in October 2022. Those notes could indicate problems or evidence that is being debated.

Here’s what we noticed from those 2022 juror notes:

1. Jurors requested to review pieces of evidence presented during the trial while deliberating, including questions surrounding AJ’s brother.

“4) Was Josh tested for [gunshot residue]?

5) Ballistics expert testimony regarding all 3 bullets being fired from the same gun

6) Testimony of 1st officers to enter [parents’] bedroom about the specific position of the 2 bodies and pillows.

7) Can we have a list of all witnesses in order by name & job title

8) Testimony regarding officer’s initial belief regarding murder/suicide.”

Screengrab from 2022 AJ Armstrong trial note during juror deliberations. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

2. Jurors disagreed over the alarm system testimony and other evidence.

This has been a key piece of testimony that has split jurors for the first two trials. Prosecutors appeared to have tried overcoming this issue by moving one witness on the alarm system to be an expert witness.

Learn the difference between a lay witness and an expert witness.

Screengrab of juror note from 2022 AJ Armstrong deliberations. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

3. Jurors showed signs of being deadlocked relatively quickly after starting deliberations.

On October 25, 2022, the jury foreman wrote, “Your honor, we have deliberated thoroughly and impartially and are at a deadlock. 6 believe the defendant is guilty and 6 believe the state has not proven the elements of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. No juror believes that his/her opinion will change by further deliberations. I want to be certain that our verdict should be ‘Not Guilty’ vs ‘hanged jury.’”

RELATED: Antonio Armstrong Jr. 3rd trial: Jurors will be asked to decide, but what do you think -- what will the verdict be?

Screengrab of juror note from 2022 AJ Armstrong capital murder trial deliberations. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Jurors in the 2022 trial continued to deliberate for part of the next day before sending another note to Judge Kelli Johnson.

“Your Honor, As I mentioned last night, our final vote yesterday was Guilty (6), Not Guilty (6). This morning, we have deliberated by having each juror summarize his/her basis for his/her current vote. Lively discussion of pertinent evidence. Respectful disagreement & challenges. New vote this AM Guilty (4), Not Guilty (8). None of the jurors believes that his/her vote will change. [Therefore], I am attaching our verdict of NOT GUILTY.”

The judge ultimately declared a mistrial because jurors were unable to reach a unanimous agreement on the verdict.

Screengrab of juror note from 2022 AJ Armstrong capital murder trial. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Catch up on the AJ Armstrong trial:

Closing arguments expected to wrap up Tuesday in third trial against AJ Armstrong

Antonio Armstrong Jr. trial: Blood spatter expert walks jury through how she found new DNA evidence after 7 years

‘He’s guilty. He’s absolutely guilty’: Some jury members share their thoughts after second mistrial in A.J. Armstrong case

About the Author:

Nationally-recognized investigative journalist. Passionate about in-depth and investigative stories that are important to the community. Obsessed with my Corgi pup named Chulo.