Week 2 of jury selection in AJ Armstrong capital murder case begins

Courtney Fischer Image
Wednesday, May 10, 2023

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Sixty-five men and women reported to the 178th Criminal District Court Tuesday for the seventh day of jury selection in A.J. Armstrong's third capital murder trial. It's the second large panel of potential jurors in a rigorous selection process that could last another two weeks.

Twenty-seven people out of those 65 were chosen to move on to the next round of individual questioning, where both prosecutors and Armstrong's team will have 30 minutes each to quiz jurors about various topics-including what they may already know about the case.

Jury selection started May 1 with the first panel of 74 people summoned. After a week of one-on-one questioning, 20 potential jurors remain.

Jurors on this second panel will face the same process.

RELATED: Houston man will be tried 3rd time after mistrial in October over parents' murders when he was 16

Armstrong arrived to court with the support of his three grandparents and wife of less than a year, who stayed in court for the entirety of the proceedings which lasted more than four hours.

Of the 38 men and women excused, nearly half of them said they couldn't morally accept the idea that when a juvenile tried as an adult is convicted of capital murder in Texas, he is automatically sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Several people also admitted they would need prosecutors to prove why Armstrong would have killed his parents, something they don't have to do according to state law.

Armstrong is charged with murdering his parents, Dawn and Antonio Sr., in July 2016. The husband and wife were shot to death with pillows placed over their faces.

Armstrong's first two trials ended in hung juries. They happened in March 2019 and October 2022.

If too many potential jurors are excused after this second round of individual questioning, it's possible a third panel will be summoned.

This uncommon type of jury selection usually only happens in death penalty cases. Based on the media exposure of the Armstrong case, Judge Kelli Johnson ruled this meticulous process would be the only way to find 12 fair and unbiased jurors, plus alternates.

Armstrong's trial is set to start June 5.

Read more about AJ Armstrong's trial.

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