HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Forty-one men and women have been qualified to be potential jurors in A.J. Armstrong's third capital murder case, three weeks into jury selection. By the end of the week, Judge Kelli Johnson hopes to have closer to 50 people before the final jury is picked on May 31.
Ten men and women were questioned one-on-one on Wednesday, while one man previously interviewed during week one of jury selection was released by the judge.
The video above is from a May 15, 2023, report on the start of a third week of jury selection.
The 38-year-old man, who was questioned for an hour on May 4, contacted the court after hearsay about the Armstrong double murder was discussed at his family gathering over the weekend. He admitted to hearing information about the investigation that he said he couldn't put aside if called to be a juror. Johnson excused him.
Dawn and Antonio Sr. were shot in the head in July 2016. Their son, Antonio Armstrong Jr., who was 16 years old at the time, was charged with their murders. Armstrong is now 23.
This is his third trial. In both of Armstrong's previous trials, jurors couldn't agree, and no verdict was reached.
Over the past seven years, the case has garnered international media coverage, which is why Judge Johnson ordered this extensive jury selection process for trial number three. Questioning potential jurors one-on-one, for up to an hour each, usually happens only during death penalty cases.
Since May 1, 204 potential jurors have been summoned. As of now, 20% of those men and women are still being considered.
On Wednesday, five men and one woman joined the pool of people who could be selected.
Among those in the group is a 29-year-old licensed counselor who works for Harris County, doing clinical assessments of people struggling with mental health issues. For nearly an hour, both prosecutors and Armstrong's attorneys questioned him thoroughly about his knowledge of people who have schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The counselor acknowledged there can be a stigma surrounding schizophrenia.
The subject of mental health has played a major role in Armstrong's two prior trials.
The defense has suggested Josh Armstrong, A.J. Armstrong's older half-brother, could be the real killer, having had a history of disturbing behavior and mental illness. A.J.'s attorneys have introduced Josh's medical records as evidence, in which doctors label Josh as schizophrenic, suicidal and depressive.
Prosecutors argue that Josh's psychotic breakdown happened after his parents were murdered, not that a mental illness could have caused him to commit murder.
The final jury will be selected at the end of the month. Armstrong's trial is set to start June 5.
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