AJ Armstrong’s: A Motion For A New Trial

Who Is AJ Armstrong Jr.

Antonio Armstrong Jr., commonly known as AJ, was born on March 23, 2000, in Houston, Texas, and is notably the son of Antonio Armstrong Sr., a former NFL linebacker who played for the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers. AJ’s family, which included his parents and siblings Josh, Herman, and Kayra, was well-known and respected in their community.

His parents, Antonio Sr. and Dawn Armstrong, were successful entrepreneurs and devout Christians who owned a fitness business and a chain of smoothie shops. The family was shattered on the tragic night of July 29, 2016, when AJ, then 16 years old, was accused of murdering his parents in their Houston home.

AJ called 911 to report hearing gunshots from his parents’ room and initially told investigators that he saw a masked intruder. However, due to no signs of forced entry and other evidence, AJ became the prime suspect. The weapon used in the crime, a .22-caliber pistol, belonged to Antonio Sr., and a note reading, “I have been watching you for a long time. Come get me.” was found at the scene. AJ was taken into custody, questioned, and then charged with capital murder. His case spiraled into a seven-year saga, including two mistrials in 2019 and 2022, and finally, a guilty verdict in 2023. AJ was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

AJ’s family has been divided by the verdict and the sentence. Some relatives and friends have expressed relief and satisfaction, saying that justice had been served, while others have expressed devastation and disappointment, asserted AJ’s innocence and vowed to continue to stand by him and fight for his freedom. AJ is married to Kate Ober, his high school sweetheart, and the mother of his son, born in 2021. Kate has been supportive of AJ throughout the trials, maintaining his innocence, and was visibly distraught when he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

The Armstrong family was not without complexities. AJ’s older brother, Josh, has a history of mental illness and drug abuse, being diagnosed with schizophrenia and paranoia, and has been hospitalized several times for suicidal thoughts and hallucinations. He was financially and emotionally cut off by his parents after dropping out of college. Herman, AJ’s younger brother, and Kayra, his younger sister, were not at home on the night of the murders and both testified at the trial that they did not believe AJ was capable of killing their parents.

The case of AJ Armstrong is multifaceted, involving a seemingly well-knit family, a tragic event, and subsequent trials that have brought various aspects of family dynamics, legal proceedings, and community responses to the forefront. The trials have explored various elements including AJ’s behavior, family relationships, and the evidence found at the crime scene, providing a complex and multi-layered narrative that has captivated and divided public opinion.

What Were The Reasons For A Mistrial?

The case of AJ Armstrong, accused of murdering his parents, Dawn and Antonio Armstrong Sr., in 2016, has been a complex and protracted legal battle, involving not one but two mistrials before a verdict was reached in a third trial. Each trial presented its own unique challenges and points of contention among jurors, leading to the inability to reach unanimous decisions in the first two instances.

First Mistrial (2019)

The first trial took place in 2019 and ended in a mistrial due to the jury’s inability to reach a unanimous verdict. The jury was split, with eight jurors believing AJ was guilty and four believing he was not guilty. The prosecution presented evidence that aimed to prove AJ’s guilt, including details about the alarm system, which indicated no break-in on the night of the murders, and the positioning of the murder weapon and a note, which they argued were staged to mislead investigators. The defense, on the other hand, pointed towards potential alternative suspects and highlighted inconsistencies in the investigation, suggesting that AJ, a 16-year-old star athlete with no history of violence, was not capable of committing such a crime.

The jurors deliberated for days, grappling with the evidence and testimonies presented. The emotional weight of the case, involving a son accused of killing his parents, likely added a layer of complexity to their deliberations. Despite the days of discussion and review, the jury remained deadlocked, unable to reconcile the differing opinions within the group, and thus, the judge declared a mistrial.

Second Mistrial (2022)

In the second trial in 2022, the jury was once again unable to reach a unanimous decision, but this time the majority leaned towards not guilty, with eight jurors believing AJ was not guilty and four believing he was guilty. The defense continued to challenge the prosecution’s narrative, introducing alternative theories and questioning the thoroughness and integrity of the investigation. They suggested that the police had been too quick to pin the crime on AJ, not adequately exploring other potential suspects or scenarios. The defense also likely highlighted AJ’s future prospects, his consistent proclamation of innocence, and the support he received from certain family members.

The prosecution would have reiterated their argument, pointing to the lack of forced entry, AJ’s inconsistent stories about a masked intruder, and the positioning of the murder weapon and note. The jury, once again, found themselves in a position where they could not reach a unanimous decision. The emotional and psychological toll, coupled with the pressure to deliver justice for the deceased while ensuring a fair trial for AJ, would have been immense. The second mistrial was declared, paving the way for a third trial.

The Last Trial (2023)

In 2023, the third trial concluded with a unanimous decision, finding AJ Armstrong guilty of the murder of his parents. This verdict came after more than 10 hours of deliberation, marking the end of a tumultuous and lengthy legal journey.

The AJ Armstrong case underscores the complexities and challenges that can arise in legal trials, especially those involving family tragedies. The jurors in both trials were tasked with navigating through a sea of evidence, testimonies, and emotional narratives, trying to discern truth and intent in a case shrouded with pain and tragedy. The inability to reach unanimous decisions in the first two trials reflects the inherent difficulties in such cases, where personal beliefs, biases, and emotional responses inevitably intertwine with the factual and legal aspects of the case.

A Motion For A Retrial

AJ Armstrong’s case has taken another turn as his defense team has filed a motion for a fourth trial, even after he was convicted of murdering his parents in 2016. The motion for a new trial brings forth several points of contention and alleged issues that occurred during the previous trials, particularly the third one, which resulted in AJ’s conviction.

Issues With Expert Witness

The motion raises questions about the credibility of Celestina Rossi, a crime scene investigator and an expert witness for the prosecution during the third trial.

Rossi presented new evidence in the most recent trial, revealing that specks of AJ’s father’s blood were found under the adhesive name placed on AJ’s clothing.

The defense claims that Rossi has been accused of planting evidence in a different case in the past, which, if known, might have allowed them to challenge her credibility during the trial.

Jurisdiction and Legal Guardian Notification

The motion asserts that the court never had proper jurisdiction to hear the case because a legal guardian for AJ was not notified about the 2017 hearing, which determined he would be tried as an adult and not a juvenile.

The defense argues that if AJ had been tried as a juvenile, the jury would have had more sentencing options, potentially including a cap of 40 years total as the sentence.

Alternative Theories And Evidence

The motion also states that there was an alternative theory regarding who could have murdered Dawn and Antonio Sr. that was conferred outside of the presence of a jury and should have been permitted into evidence.

It related to a hearing by someone who alleged that AJ’s father, Antonio, was reportedly “running a prostitution ring outside of their family-owned gym in Bellaire.”

The defense claims that the jury did not know any other alternative suspects.

Constitutionality Of The Sentence

The motion claims that AJ’s sentence was “unconstitutional” because he was only a juvenile at the time of the crime.

Current Status

AJ Armstrong is currently in custody at the Harris County Jail as he awaits transfer to prison. The motion for a new trial will be ruled on by a federal judge, but the timeline for that ruling has not been made clear.

The motion for a new trial introduces a new chapter in AJ Armstrong’s case, which has already seen a series of legal battles and emotional turmoil for all parties involved. The defense’s arguments, if accepted, could potentially pave the way for another trial, continuing the legal saga further.

What Does A Motion For Retrial Mean For You?

A motion for a retrial, often referred to as a motion for a new trial, is a formal request made to a court by a defendant to overturn or set aside a court’s judgment, verdict, or other final ruling in a case. The motion requests the court to formally vacate its decision and order a new trial. Here’s an in-depth look at what a motion for retrial entails and what it means for someone involved in a legal case:

Basis for Filing a Motion for Retrial

The defense may argue that legal errors occurred during the trial, which could have influenced the outcome. The discovery of new evidence that was not available during the original trial and could potentially alter the verdict.

Allegations of misconduct by the jury, prosecution, or even the judge, which might have impacted the fairness of the trial. If the defendant believes that their legal representation was inadequate or ineffective, it might be grounds for a retrial.

Legal Process

The defense submits a written motion to the court, outlining the reasons and basis for requesting a new trial. The motion must specify the legal grounds upon which it is based, such as errors in the trial process, new evidence, or other relevant factors.

There is typically a specific time frame within which the motion for a new trial must be filed, often within a certain number of days after the verdict or judgment. The court reviews the motion, considering whether the points raised have merit and whether they could have influenced the outcome of the trial.

Potential Outcomes

If the motion is granted, the previous verdict is set aside, and a new trial is scheduled. The case is essentially restarted, and the parties may need to go through pre-trial and trial processes again.

If the motion is denied, the original verdict stands. The defendant may then explore other avenues of appeal.

Implications For The Defendant

Going through another trial can be emotionally and financially taxing for the defendant and all parties involved. A retrial provides an opportunity for a different outcome, which could be more favorable or, conversely, less favorable for the defendant.

Retrials can also have implications on a person’s public image and personal relationships, especially in high-profile cases.

Broader Implications

The outcomes of motions for retrial can sometimes set legal precedents, influencing future cases with similar circumstances. Retrials ensure that the legal system provides avenues for redress and correction if there are valid concerns about the fairness or accuracy of a verdict.

A motion for retrial is a significant legal step, providing a mechanism to challenge and potentially overturn a court’s decision. It is an essential aspect of the legal system, ensuring that parties have the opportunity to seek justice and fairness, especially when new information or errors in the trial process come to light. However, it is a complex and challenging process, requiring a thorough understanding of legal principles and adherence to procedural requirements.

Need Help? Call Us Now!

Do not forget that when you or anyone you know is facing a criminal charge, you have us, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, by your side to help you build the best defense case for you. We will work and be in your best interest for you and we will obtain the best possible outcome that can benefit you. We can explain everything you need to know about your trial and how to defend your case best. We can help you step by step through the criminal process.

Therefore, do not hesitate to call us if you find yourself or someone you know that is facing criminal charges unsure about the court system. We will work with you to give you the best type of defense that can help you solve your case. It is vital to have someone explain the result of the charge to you and guide you in the best possible way.

Here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we have professional and knowledgeable criminal law attorneys who are experienced in building a defense case for you that suits your needs for the best possible outcome that can benefit you.

Also, here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, you are given a free consultation at your convenience. You may choose to have your appointment via Zoom, google meet, email, or an in-person appointment; and we will provide you with as much advice and information as possible so you can have the best possible result in your case.

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