The third capital murder trial of AJ Armstrong Jr. is scheduled to commence on Monday in Houston. Armstrong is accused of fatally shooting his parents at their residence in Bellaire in July 2016 when he was 16 years old. Previous attempts to reach a unanimous verdict in Armstrong’s case were unsuccessful, with hung juries in both his trials—first in 2019 and then in October 2022.
Legal analyst Chris Tritico, from FOX 26, remarked that the previous trials did not yield favorable results for the state, and it remains uncertain if any new evidence can be introduced. Consequently, the focus of this trial will primarily be on jury selection. To ensure a fair trial after seven years, the decision was made to employ individual voir dire, where each potential juror will be questioned individually rather than as a group. This approach was chosen in lieu of moving the trial out of Harris County.
During a pre-trial hearing, the admissibility of specific evidence was discussed, including surveillance video of a robbery. The presiding judge, Kelli Johnson, is expected to announce her decision on Monday. Tritico expressed skepticism about the significance of the video, stating that its inclusion or exclusion may not alter the outcome of the case, as it has not been used in the previous trials.
Legal analysts do not anticipate a change in the defense’s strategy despite the limited time for preparation leading up to the third trial. In the previous trials, the defense sought to shift the blame onto Armstrong’s brother, Josh.
If convicted, Armstrong could be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years. However, in the absence of a verdict, there is no limit to the number of times the case can be retried, resulting in significant financial and resource costs for both parties. Tritico mentioned a previous case from the 1990s involving a capital murder charge that took four trials before a conviction was secured, highlighting the need for a reassessment if the third trial fails to reach a verdict.
The trial is set to begin with opening statements on Monday morning in Harris County. Source.