The teenager who allegedly shot and killed his retired NFL player father and his mother has been told he will stand trial as an adult.
Antonio Armstrong Jr, known as ‘AJ,’ was 16 years old when he allegedly shot and killed Dawn and Antonio Armstrong Sr, a former Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers linebacker, as they slept inside the family’s home in Houston on July 29, 2016.
On Wednesday, a Harris County judge ruled that Armstrong, who is now 17 years old, will be tried as an adult.
A somber AJ Armstrong appeared in the downtown Juvenile Justice Center wearing a suit and tie for the certification hearing and was seen weeping as photos of his late parents were shown in court.
The 17-year-old also turned away when a video was played showing police walking through his family’s blood-stained home just moments after Antonio and Dawn Armstrong’s bodies were found in their bedroom.
The footage showed a black gun resting on the kitchen counter along with a handwritten note that read, ‘I have been watching you for some time,’ a bullet hole in the ceiling and shell casings.
The video of the police walk-through also displayed Mrs Armstrong’s lifeless body laying on a bloodstained bed, reported KTRK.
Police were called to the Armstrongs’ home in the affluent Houston suburb of Bellaire at around 1.40am on July 29, 2016.
Dawn was found dead at the scene, while Antonio was rushed to a hospital, where he later died. The couple, both aged 42, were shot in the head.
Besides AJ, the parents had a 20-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter.
AJ Armstrong has vehemently maintained his innocence, claiming that a masked intruder was responsible for the killings.
AJ’s certification as an adult did not come as a surprise to the teen or his defense team, but his attorney Rick DeToto said his client was ‘obviously disappointed.’
‘We’ve been telling him since the first time we met him that he could be tried as an adult based on the offense and the court,’ DeToto said, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Prosecutor Martina Longoria said evidence was presented to the judge that showed probable cause for the capital murder charge and shed light on the suspect’s past delinquent behavior.
Longoria said AJ was removed last spring from his private school because of poor academic performance and enrolled in a public school.
On one occasion, the prosecutor said, AJ’s parents caught him smoking marijuana in his room, and in June 2016, just weeks before their killings, they took away their son’s car and cellphone.
When police search AJ’s room after the double homicide, they allegedly discovered a crack pipe.
The defense argued that there was no gunshot residue on AJ Armstrong’s clothing the night of the murders, and his fingerprints were not found on the murder weapon.
Longoria, however, countered by saying that that the defendant admitted to a homicide detective that he discharged a gun in his room before his parents were slain, meaning that he had handled the .22-caliber pistol that night.
The court also heard testimony from a detective who said that AJ Armstrong called 911, telling the dispatcher that he hid in a closet after hearing the sound of gunshots coming from his parents’ bedroom and seeing a masked man in the house.
He stayed on the phone until police responded to the scene less than 10 minutes later.
AJ, who was at home with his sister, then disabled the alarm system and let officers in. Police found no signs of forced entry.
Martina Longoria called the case ‘tragic.’
‘The family seems beautiful, but on the other hand you have something really sinister happening. It presents an interesting dichotomy,’ she said.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Harris County District Attorney’s Office released the suspect’s name and said he is now certified as an adult for the possibly of being prosecuted for capital murder.
If convicted, he could face life in prison with a possibility of parole after 40 years.
AJ Armstrong has been lodged at the Harris County juvenile detention center from the time of his arrest, but now he will be transferred to the Harris County jail.
Antonio Armstrong Sr was a college All-American with Texas A&M in 1994, before being drafted in the sixth-round by the San Francisco 49ers.
In 1995, he played four games for the Miami Dolphins, while also spending three seasons in the CFL with the British Columbia Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Since retiring, Armstrong went into motivational speaking, and opened a fitness company called 1st Class Training with his wife. They had three locations across Houston.