AJ Armstrong's defense asking court to pay for private investigator due to inability to afford one

Courtney Fischer Image
Thursday, May 4, 2023
AJ Armstrong's lawyers ask court to fund private investigator
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Armstrong's attorneys are asking the court to pay $5,000 toward a private investigator working his 3rd capital murder case because he "cannot afford to hire one" due to spending funds for legal counsel.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A.J. Armstrong's attorneys have asked Harris County's 178th District Court to pay $5,000 towards the private investigator working his capital murder case because Armstrong "cannot afford to hire" one, according to a motion filed on Tuesday.

"The defendant is "indigent," the motion states. There was no information attached to show this claim.

The motion also says Armstrong's attorney, Rick DeToto, has already agreed to a "substantially reduced rate," as his family has exhausted all funds to pay for counsel.

"The services of private investigators are necessary to enable the defendant to investigate his case properly and to prepare effectively for trial," DeToto states in the paperwork.

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

Judge Kelli Johnson responded to the motion by agreeing the court will pay half the fees and expenses requested, at $2,500.

DeToto declined to comment on the motion. Prosecutors also declined to comment.

Day three of jury selection was on Wednesday, as five more potential jurors were questioned individually. Two of those five were dismissed, including a college student and hardware store employee, who said he wouldn't be able to find Armstrong guilty, regardless of evidence, because of the automatic punishment.

If convicted, Armstrong will be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

The second juror dismissed was a Pakistani man who immigrated to the U.S. 34 years ago, who said he would need Armstrong to testify in order to deliver a verdict. A defendant has the right not to testify in their trial, and that decision must not be held against them.

The three potential jurors who will move on to the final phase of jury selection at the end of the month include a 67-year-old grandmother who said to the court she's "asking God to put me where he wants me and if it's on the jury, so be it."

SEE ORIGINAL REPORT: Teen charged with capital murder of mother and father

Jury selection resumes on Thursday. Armstrong's capital murder trial is set to start on June 5.

This will be the third time Armstrong is on trial for allegedly shooting and killing his parents, Dawn and Antonio Sr., in July 2016.

Armstrong's first trial in March 2019 resulted in a hung jury. His second trial, in October, ended with the same result.

'I'M INNOCENT': Houston teen AJ Armstrong gives his side as he awaits trial in murder of his parents

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