HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The judge has declared a mistrial in the case of Antonio Armstrong Jr., who was charged with capital murder in the deaths of his parents.
The jury in the trial remained deadlocked for most of Thursday and Friday. The defense asked for a mistrial based on the jurors' inability to reach a unanimous verdict. The jury deliberations began on Wednesday afternoon.
“We appreciate the tremendous effort by the jury, said Harris County Assistant District Attorney John Brewer. "Antonio Armstrong Jr. murdered two citizens of our county and we will continue to fight for justice and bring him to trial again.”
In an effort to avoid a mistrial, Judge Kelli Johnson had told jurors on Friday to try harder to reach a unanimous decision, a procedure known as the "Allen charge."
"Don’t do violence to your conscience but continue deliberating,” said Judge Johnson.
The five men and seven women on the jury were deadlocked as they determined if Armstrong shot and killed his parents with his father’s gun as they slept in their bed. Armstrong was only 16 years old in July of 2016 when Dawn and Antonio Sr. were killed. The now-19-year-old Armstrong had strong family support at the courthouse as he awaits his fate.
During the deliberations, jurors had asked to view several pieces of evidence. They wanted to see the note left at the crime scene, the records for the home alarm systems and thousands of pages of text messages sent within the Armstrong family.
The state has argued the alarm system shows no one went into the home or left the morning Antonio Armstrong Sr. and Dawn Armstrong were killed while they slept. The only other people confirmed in the home at the time were Antonio Armstrong Jr. and his younger sister.
Defense attorneys argue the alarm system was faulty. They also tried to shift blame and introduce reasonable doubt by bringing up Armstrong's older brother Josh, who the defense team claims had a history of mental health issues.
Jurors were released at 5 p.m. throughout the week, but had chosen to stay late on Friday night to continue deliberating.
"This is what we want," said defense attorney Rick Detoto. "We want jurors to look at the evidence and to hold onto whatever feelings are. That's what I asked in my closing argument. We don't want any juror to violate their conscience as far as what they feel is appropriate in this case. Obviously, there are some people on the jury that don't believe the state's version of events and obviously we're happy about that.”