HOUSTON — The double murder case of Antonio Armstrong Jr. ended in a mistrial Friday after the jurors were unable to reach a verdict following three days of deliberations.
While eight jury members found the defendant guilty, the remaining four voted not to convict the teen. And in a capital murder trial, all the jury members must agree. The suspect is accused of killing his parents as the couple slept in the family’s Bellaire home back in 2016. He was only 16 years old at the time.
Armstrong, now 19 years old, is scheduled to return to court in late May and a new trial will be set.
Three Days of Deliberations
The trial had been going on for most of the month, but closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday. Each side got to sum up their thoughts on the case and we heard from the defense first.
Armstrong’s attorney, Rick De Toto said one problem with the case is confirmation bias. He said the Houston Police Department officers that responded to the crime scene made up their minds quickly that the teen had committed the murder and didn’t truly consider other options.
Rick De Toto described Armstrong as a happy kid up until that time, saying that’s inconsistent with the suspect murdering his parents. He admitted his client wasn’t a perfect kid but added that there’s no evidence he committed the crime.
"They're asking you to make that leap," De Toto said before the judge and jury. "Mr. Brewer is asking you to take the 16-year-old banter of knucklehead and jump over to being a capital murderer."
The prosecution then had their chance, saying there are enough uncontested facts in the case— Armstrong was the last person with the gun, four people were in the house, two died and one was asleep. He went on to say Armstrong is smart and a pathological liar. He said the teenager had no problem lying to his parents or the police.
"He told the police officers that he never touched the gun. Uncontested he lied," Harris County attorney John Brewer said. "Uncontested he told the police officers his friends came over. Lie. Uncontested he started to tell them that his friends wanted to see the gun fired. Lie."