AJ Armstrong Murders Parents In Texas

AJ Armstrong was a sixteen year old teen killer from Texas who would murder his parents Antonio SR and Dawn Armstrong

According to court documents AJ Armstrong, whose first name is Antonio, would call 911 and told the operator that he heard gunshots coming from his parents room. When police officers showed up they would find the bodies of Antonio Sr and Dawn Armstrong dead and lying in their bed

Aj Armstrong would be arrested, go through three trials before he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years

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AJ Armstrong Case

It was 1:40 a.m. on July 29, 2016, when 16-year-old Antonio “AJ” Armstrong called 911 from his family’s Bellaire-area home on Palmetto Drive.

“I just heard two gunshots in my parents’ room,” he told the dispatcher. “Will you please hurry?”

Antonio Jr. said he was hiding in the closet of his third-floor bedroom. “But my sister’s downstairs on the second floor. She’s 12.”

The teen confirmed his dad had a gun in the nightstand or under the bed in his parents’ second-floor bedroom.

At one point during the call, Antonio Jr. muttered to himself, “It’s all my fault.”

When police arrived, he ran downstairs and turned off the alarm to let them in. They went upstairs and discovered that Antonio Sr. and Dawn Armstrong had been shot in their bed and pillows had been placed over their heads. Dawn was already dead from two gunshot wounds. Antonio Sr. was rushed to the hospital with a single gunshot wound but doctors weren’t able to save him.

The killer left a note scribbled in large letters downstairs on a kitchen counter next to the murder weapon. “I HAVE BEEN WATCHING YOU FOR A LONG TIME. COME GET ME.”

Investigators found no sign of forced entry. They separated Antonio Jr. and his sister Kayra, bagged their hands for gunshot residue and put them in patrol cars.

Antonio Jr. called his older brother Josh who, according to his girlfriend, grabbed his shotgun and ran out frantically from his nearby apartment. When he got to his parents’ home, Houston police officers wouldn’t tell him anything or let him go inside.

“He was upset. His parents had just been murdered,” a homicide detective said.

Antonio Sr.’s mother, Kay Winston, also rushed to the house with her daughter.

Winston was shocked when she saw her grandkids in patrol cars and learned Antonio Jr. was a suspect.

“Let me tell you something, if AJ did something like this, it had to be drugs,” she told investigators.

He was brought to HPD headquarters the next morning where he was interviewed for several hours before being charged with capital murder.

It would take seven years and three trials to finally get justice for Antonio Sr. and Dawn. Their own son, now 23, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

Many are left wondering why things went so wrong in a family that appeared to have it all.
‘We had a loving family’

Antonio Armstrong Sr. grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward where he and his four siblings were raised in the church. He played football at Texas A&M before being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1995. After a couple of years in the NFL, Armstrong Sr. joined the Canadian Football League.

Along the way, he met Dawn at church, married her and adopted her son Josh. Their second child, Antonio Jr., was born in Canada before the family moved back to Houston where they welcomed daughter Kayra.

“Beautiful children and beautiful wife,” paternal grandmother Kay Winston said.

The Armstrongs moved to the Bellaire area and opened 1st Class Gym. Antonio Sr. also worked as a motivational speaker and served as associate pastor at his mother’s Spirit of Life church.

“We were very close. We spent a lot of time together at church, my home and their home,” Winston said.

Like a lot of Texans, their lives revolved around faith, family and football. Both boys played and Antonio Sr. coached their teams. Antonio Jr. was a strong athlete with dreams of playing in the NFL like his dad.

“Very competitive. He was good at football, basketball and track,” Winston said.

The kids were sweet, bright and did well in school, according to their grandmother. All three of them attended Kinkaid, a top-rated private school where tuition costs over $30,000.

They were the All-American family.

In the months before the murders, things began to unravel. The Armstrongs were frustrated with both sons.

Antonio Jr. had failed out of Kinkaid. In text messages, Dawn accused him of smoking marijuana, drinking and lying to them over and over.

“I’m so disappointed in you,” she said in one text.

Josh, meanwhile, was having his own issues in college and later admitted he’d been smoking marijuana daily. Family members said he dropped out of Blinn and moved back to his parents’ home.

“He was different,” Winston testified. “His hair wasn’t kept up and his clothes were dirty.”

Kayra testified that Josh seemed out of it and she would hear him in the bathroom talking to himself.

They both said the Armstrongs kicked Josh out of the house after he had a party with marijuana and booze while they were out of town.

Despite Josh’s issues, text messages showed he had a very close relationship with Dawn. She often confided in him about her frustration with Antonio Jr. and even leaned on him for support.

“I don’t know what I did wrong as a mom. I just wanted the best for my babies,” one text to Josh in early June said. “I’m trying not to feel like a failure.”

“I love you mom! Be strong! We will succeed,” Josh replied.

He was working at the family’s gym and had started taking college classes again.

Dawn found Josh an apartment and bought furniture and other items for it.

“You’re too good to me, thank you, momma,” Josh texted on July 17 after she sent him some photos of a table.

“Love you, son!” Dawn replied.

While Josh seemed to be turning things around, Antonio Jr. was getting worse.

Two days before the murders, he put gasoline in a bottle of rubbing alcohol and set a fire on the stairwell outside his parents’ bedroom. His dad put out the fire before it spread. Dawn texted a photo of the burned carpet to Josh.

Days before the murders, Antonio Jr. also fired the murder weapon through a pillow and blanket and covered up the hole in his bedroom floor with a pile of socks.

“Purely coincidental?” prosecutor John Jordan asked in closing arguments during his third trial. “It’s ridiculous. Ridiculous.”

Jurors said those two events combined with cell phone records that showed Antonio Jr. was awake and moving around the house beginning at 1:09 a.m. the morning of the murders. He made the 911 call 31 minutes later. They also cited alarm records that showed nobody else entered or exited the house that night.

Defense attorneys spent much of the trial trying to prove that Josh was a more likely suspect. Forensic psychiatrists from both sides examined hundreds of pages of medical records that documented Josh’s downward spiral in the months after the murders.

His ex-girlfriend Hannah testified that Josh never showed any signs of mental health issues before the murders but a few weeks after, he became very paranoid that the killer would come after him. He even made up a list of people who could have been the killers, including her.

“I want to be very, very clear about this. Josh was never like this before. This completely ruined his life,” Hannah told jurors at the trial.

About six months after the murders, Josh was voluntarily admitted to Ben Taub and treated for depression and paranoia brought on by PTSD and trauma caused by his parents’ deaths. Josh’s mental health continued to deteriorate with repeated trips to psychiatric centers over the next few years. By 2018, medical records described him as a “full-blown psychotic” with schizophrenia. He was hearing voices and believed he was God or the devil. He eventually became catatonic and couldn’t or wouldn’t answer doctors’ questions. Family members said he has disappeared and no one knows where he is.

Jurors told prosecutors that they never bought the defense argument that Josh was the killer. After the verdict, prosecutor John Jordan said it was “inexcusable” to try to pin the murders on him and they described Josh as another victim of the murders.

Armstrong Jr. has already filed an appeal. He told the judge he is broke and can’t afford to hire an attorney so she appointed a public defender to handle his appeal.
Shattered dreams

Armstrong Jr.’s wife Kate, his girlfriend when the murders happened, is now left to pick up the pieces as she tries to move forward with their 3-year-old son and a mountain of legal bills.

Kayra is 19 and attending LSU. She appeared composed and confident when she testified at her brother’s trial but broke down when she talked about the night that forever changed her life.

Kayra lost her parents when she was only 12. Psychiatrists say her oldest brother, Josh, will never be the same or lead a normal life. And now, Antonio Jr. is going to prison for killing their mom and dad.

Antonio Sr. and Dawn wanted the best for their three children. Now, Kayra may be the only one who can still have the bright future they once dreamed of for all of them.

https://www.khou.com/article/news/crime/aj-antonio-dawn-armstrong-murders/285-edee2b40-53fc-4ece-8e59-c98536a3793d

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