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Judge files motion for change of venue in 3rd A.J. Armstrong capital murder trial

In October, a judge declared a mistrial in the second capital murder trial for Antonio "AJ" Armstrong Jr.

HOUSTON — A judge requested a change of venue in the A.J. Armstrong Jr. trial, according to court documents.

Armstrong Jr. is charged with killing his parents inside their Bellaire home in 2016. He was in court earlier this month for a pre-trial hearing. That was the first time he had been in court since his second mistrial in October.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above is from a report in early January on a pre-trial hearing in the A.J. Armstrong capital murder trial.

Judge Kelli Johnson in her filing said she did not think that a fair and impartial trial could be had in Harris County. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 30 on the change of venue motion where attorneys are invited to offer evidence either in support of or against the court's proposed change of venue.

In an emotional interview following the pre-trial hearing, Armstrong Jr.'s grandparents pleaded for the district attorney's office to not continue with another trial.

"We have stood by our grandson’s side every day since 2016," said Armstrong Jr.'s grandfather, Keith Wiley. "Everyone in the family supports him and believes he’s innocent of the charges. Our family hurts and grieves."

Armstrong Jr. stood in front of a judge waiting to see when a new trial would be held. He was also seen crying in the hallway along with family members. Wiley said the family cannot move on as long as this murder case is hanging over their heads.

The judge ordered that jury selection will begin on Feb. 24, but testimonies won’t be heard until March 20. The reason for the gap is that prosecutors were worried about spring break and RodeoHouston inconveniencing jurors.

Armstrong Jr.'s defense attorneys argue someone else committed the crime and that a third trial is a waste of taxpayer money.

What happened

Armstrong Jr. was 16 when prosecutors said he shot and killed his parents. Antonio Armstrong Sr. and Dawn Armstrong were killed while they slept in their Bellaire home.

Armstrong Jr.'s first trial in 2019 ended in a mistrial when jurors couldn't agree on a verdict.

During the second trial, defense attorneys said eight jurors believed Armstrong Jr. was innocent and four thought he was guilty. In his first trial, it was the other way around with eight jurors believing he was guilty.

KHOU 11 spoke with a juror in the second trial. They said doubt created by the defense is what led to a hung jury.

“It just got to the point where I couldn’t even talk anymore," the juror said. "Everyone kind of had their mind made up, but it was very frustrating to hear everyone say -- and I mean everyone, say, 'We know he’s not innocent but we still have doubt.'”

The victims

Armstrong Sr. played football for Texas A&M and the Miami Dolphins and coached both of his sons when they were younger.

He was an associate pastor, according to police. Dawn Armstrong's Facebook page said they "serve in ministry together."

The couple owned 1st Class Training in Bellaire and Armstrong Sr. was also a motivational speaker.

Family members have continued to support Antonio Armstrong Jr. throughout both of his trials and many were in the courtroom in October when the mistrial was announced.

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