AJ Armstrong's third trial will remain in Harris County

The third murder trial for Antonio "AJ" Armstrong Jr. will remain in Harris County.

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A hearing was scheduled Monday to consider moving the retrial out of the county. The defense and prosecution reached an agreement, and the judge accepted the agreement.

Several high-profile names – including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg – had been subpoenaed to testify in the hearing, but they have been released from having to appear.

Armstrong is accused of murdering his parents Antonio Sr. and Dawn Armstrong back in 2016 when he was just 16 years old. The couple was shot to death as they slept in their Bellaire home.

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His first two trials in 2019 and October of last year ended in hung juries.

Judge Kelli Johnson wanted a change of venue for the third trial due to publicity and media coverage. Armstrong’s attorneys were fighting against the change in venue. Family, friends, and civil rights leaders packed the courtroom for AJ’s Change of Venue Hearing. 

AJ’s Great Uncle Harvey Armstrong, for example, who was a father figure to Antonio Sr. Harvey played in the NFL for the Colts and Eagles, and his nephew Antonio Sr. followed him into the league. The two were very close.

"It’s very, very hard on the family. It’s just wearing us down. It’s taking a major toll financially, mentally, spiritually. It’s just wearing us down," Harvey Armstrong said. "It’s very draining emotionally. I mean there’s not a day that doesn’t pass that I don’t think about him. Of course, during football season it comes up even more so."

"If the trial was moved we don’t know what county it would be in," added Houston NAACP President Bishop James Dixon. "We don’t know whether it would be a county prepared to hear this kind of case without bias."

Prosecutors with the DA’s Office presented an option to the judge and to AJ’s defense attorneys suggesting how to ensure Armstrong receives a fair trial without moving it out of Harris County.


The defense has agreed to what’s called Individual Voir Dire where potential jurors are taken into a room one at a time and not questioned as a group. 

"We filed a motion for Individual Voir Dire, which is the same type of voir dire that occurs in a death penalty case," King explains. 

"If of 5, 6, 7 million people in our region we cannot find 12 members of our community to render a fair verdict, then we’ve got a major problem beyond this case," adds Bishop Dixon. 

Armstrong is charged with shooting and killing his parents Antonio Sr. and Dawn Armstrong as they slept in their Bellaire home back in 2016 when he was just 16 years old. Two different trials, one in 2019 and the other in October 2022, both ended in hung juries. AJ is now married with a child of his own. 

"I mean three trials. Come on now. Enough is enough," Harvey Armstrong said. "It’s hard to see how him and his wife Dawn lost their lives. Now you’re dragging his namesake and somebody who looks just like him, and now you’re dragging him through this."

His third murder trial is set to start on February 24, 2023.