2 potential jurors exposed to information about AJ Armstrong remain in jury pool

Courtney Fischer Image
Friday, May 19, 2023
Potential jurors exposed to facts about Armstrong case remain in pool
Two potential jurors in A.J. Armstrong's third murder trial returned to court Friday, acknowledging they had been exposed to facts about the case.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Two potential jurors in A.J. Armstrong's third capital murder trial, who have already been thoroughly vetted, returned to court Friday after acknowledging exposure to facts of the case and information about the Armstrong family.

It's the very thing Judge Kelli Johnson is trying to avoid with the extensive, three-week jury selection process.

On May 10, a panel member told the court she had not heard of the case. Since then, she says she remembered her boss had, in fact, brought up the Armstrong case after she told him about her jury summons.

When questioned on Friday by prosecutors, she shared that her boss "saw on the news" that Armstrong is accused of killing his parents with a gun and that he was young when it happened, has an older brother, and is being retried.

In July 2016, Dawn and Antonio Sr. were both shot in the head in their southwest Houston home. Their son, Armstrong, who was 16 at the time, was charged with their murders.

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

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.

Defense attorney Rick DeToto asked the potential juror if anything she had heard about the case made her biased. She answered under oath, "No," saying she could set aside what she heard.

ADA John Jordan pressed the potential juror for details, then later expressed concern to the judge, calling her "evasive," saying "she was avoiding questions."

A second issue addressed regarding this potential juror was whether or not she knew Armstrong attended The Kinkaid School.

In Armstrong's two previous capital murder trials, both of which ended with a hung jury, prosecutors showed Armstrong was failing at The Kinkaid School, arguing his parents didn't want to pay the high tuition, so he was leaving the exclusive private school to attend Lamar High School.

The details about what this potential juror really knows is unclear so the judge set a hearing for next Tuesday in which a court bailiff, who discussed the subject with the potential juror, will testify about their conversation.

The second juror who returned to court says after his initial interview Thursday, he discovered his wife worked at the day care where Armstrong was watched as a child. He said the connection didn't cause him to form an opinion on the case.

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.

Neither juror was dismissed. The final jury will be picked on May 31: 12 jurors and four alternates.

Over the month of May, 204 jurors have been summoned and interviewed as potential jurors. The pool has been narrowed down to 48 people.

The trial is set to start on June 5.

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

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