3-week, pre-jury selection in AJ Armstrong murder trial nears end with 48 potential jurors

Courtney Fischer Image
Friday, May 19, 2023
Pre-jury selection process ends with 48 potential AJ Armstrong panelists
A three-week process to find jurors who have heard little or nothing about the AJ Armstrong case was complete Thursday with 48 out of 204 potential panelists picked.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After 13 days and more than 150 hours of questioning potential jurors individually, there is a pool of nearly 50 men and women who could decide A.J. Armstrong's fate in his third capital murder trial.

If convicted, Armstrong, now 23, would be automatically sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

But even in the final days of the in-depth selection process, outside influence continues to be an issue.

SEE PREVIOUS STORY: AJ Armstrong potential jury pool reaches 41 people with final selection 2 weeks away

On day nine of jury selection for A.J. Armstrong's third capital murder trial, five more potential jurors were selected.

A 22-year-old potential juror told the court on Thursday that after making it past the first round of cuts from Tuesday's large panel, she was scrolling on TikTok when a video about Armstrong popped up. Judge Kelli Johnson has ordered potential jurors to break from the news, stay off social media, and not research the case. The woman told the court she watched the video for five to 10 seconds before realizing what it was.

She went on to explain she believed the video was posted by Armstrong's wife, showing photos of the accused killer with his son alongside text stating Armstrong is "innocent." The potential juror testified the photos didn't affect her, and she'll move on to the final jury selection set for May 31.

Johnson has made it clear she wants fair and impartial jurors unaffected by outside opinions infiltrating this jury, as the case has been highly publicized over the past seven years.

Dawn and Antonio Sr. were shot to death in their southwest Houston home in July 2016. Armstrong, their son, who was 16 years old at the time, was arrested and charged within hours of the double murder. His two previous trials in 2019 and 2022 ended in mistrials when both juries could not agree on a verdict.

SEE ALSO: Potential juror tells AJ Armstrong directly: if evidence is there, she will convict

During week one of jury selection, a potential juror told A.J. Armstrong directly that she will convict if there is evidence in the case.

Over the past three weeks, 204 potential jurors were summoned for Armstrong's case. After 13 days of questioning, there is a pool of 48 people left. Of those 48, 12 jurors will be picked, plus alternates.

This intense, exhaustive selection process usually only happens in a death penalty case because of the heavy life or death consequence jurors weigh. But, Johnson ruled for individual interviews in Armstrong's case because of the nationwide media exposure.

The final eight potential jurors were interviewed Thursday, and of them, seven remained in the jury pool, including a middle school teacher, engineer, hairdresser, and engineer.

What's expected to be the final day of individual interviews happens on Friday. One panelist, already interviewed, will return to court to answer questions about possibly being exposed to background information about Armstrong.

Armstrong's trial is set to start on June 5.

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