‘We will not ever stop fighting for AJ’: Legal team, family members react to guilty verdict, life sentence

HOUSTONAntonio ‘A.J.’ Armstrong Jr. was found guilty of capital murder Wednesday in his parent’s brutal slaying inside their southwest Houston home back in 2016.

SEE ALSO: Antonio ‘AJ’ Armstrong Jr. found guilty of murdering parents, sentenced to life in prison

This was A.J.’s third capital murder trial, as the first two resulted in mistrials.

Following the reading of the verdict, Armstrong was immediately sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 40 years.

Legal experts said the now 23-year-old, who was 16 at the time of the murders, will have to serve 40 years to the calendar date of his Aug. 16, 2023 sentence before he can go before a parole board.

KPRC 2′s ‘The Bench’ team was inside the courthouse before, during, and after A.J.’s verdict was read.

According to those inside the courtroom, A.J. turned to his wife Kate and said, “It’s OK,” after learning his fate.

Our reporters were able to capture the moments his family, including his wife, exited the courtroom, showing visible emotions.

Attorney Rick DeToto, who represented A.J. for the past seven years in all three trials, spoke to the media as he left the courtroom.

“He is devastated. But he is one of the strongest young men I have ever known,” DeToto said.

KPRC 2 reporter Rilwan Balogun asked DeToto how he felt after the verdict.

“It’s absolutely devastating. A.J. has grown up with us. As I said in my closing, during the last seven years, we’ve seen him grow up from a 16-year-old to a young man [to] a father, a husband. It’s devastating,” DeToto said. “But when the District Attorney has the power to continue to retry cases financially [and] devastate the family, those are things that are hard to overcome on a third trial.”

DeToto also said that he will not be representing A.J. on an appeal because he doesn’t handle those types of cases; however, he said a notice of appeal has already been filed.

A.J.’s family has stood beside him all along.

“They’re going to do the right thing, and they’re going to see this thing through and hopefully get some justice for A.J.,” defense attorney Chris Collings said.

KPRC 2′s ‘The Bench’ team was in the courtroom daily providing live updates. See blogs below for complete coverage.

About the Author:

Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.