Texts Show Ex-NFL Player, Wife Were 'Disappointed' in Son Before Their Murders
A Texas teen who is on trial for allegedly murdering his parents was regularly being reprimanded over his poor grades, lying and lax behavior in the months leading up to the couple’s shooting deaths, prosecutors argued in court, multiple outlets report.
Antonio Armstrong, Jr., 19, is charged with capital murder for allegedly fatally shooting his parents, former NFL linebacker Antonio Armstrong, Sr., and Dawn Armstrong, both 42, in bed while they slept in their Houston home on July 29, 2016, when he was 16, authorities previously told PEOPLE.
He is being tried as an adult in the case and faces life in prison with the possibility of parole in 40 years, the Houston Chronicle reports.
He is ineligible for the death penalty because he was a minor at the time of the alleged murders, the Chronicle reports.
On the night of the murders, Armstrong called police at 1:41 a.m. saying he was hiding in a closet because he’d heard gunshots and had seen a masked man in the house, the Chronicle reported at the time.
When police arrived, they found no signs of forced entry but did see a .22-caliber pistol on the kitchen counter, prosecutors said at the time, KPRC2Houston reports.
The teen let officers into the home after he disabled the security system, prosecutors said, the Chronicle reported.
Armstrong Jr. pleaded not guilty and has maintained his innocence since his parents’ deaths. He “adamantly [denies] that he has committed these murders,” defense attorney Rick Detoto told PEOPLE previously.
Armstrong Jr. sobbed hysterically when prosecutors showed autopsy pictures of his parents in court Thursday, local station KTRK reports.
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Before resting its case on Thursday, the prosecution presented dozens of text messages between the teen and his parents in the 10 months leading up to their deaths showing their disapproval and disappointment in him over his performance and behavior in and out of school, KTRK-TV reports.
The teen was a “standout” on the football field in middle school at The Kinkaid School, the private school in Houston that he attended until the end of his junior year, his former coach testified.
In his junior year in 2016, when the teen was struggling in school, his father texted him, saying, “You can’t feel hopeless. You have to believe in yourself like we believe in you,” KTRK reports.
But his father expressed disappointment when he learned that his son had failed to hand in assignments and skipped extra help sessions.
“A.J., really bro,” Armstrong, Sr. texted his son, KTRK reports. “I just don’t get it. Zeros. Missing assignments, emails from teachers. I am tired. Really tired. Nothing left to say.”
His parents reprimanded him about smoking marijuana at home, which he denied via texts, and about saying he had gone to basketball practice, when he hadn’t. “A.J. is starting to lie,” the Chronicle reports his mother texted. “I am so disappointed. He doesn’t care about anything. He is a bold face liar, like, have never seen before.”
In June 2016, when his parents asked him about several Ds he had received in school, he replied, “I’m not even going to try and say sorry for everything because right now I know it doesn’t mean anything to you guys. I know I need a major life change right now.”
His mother texted back, “We gave you all and the best we had. We wanted the best for you. We provided the best education, bought you a great car to celebrate you. We tried to be open with you and what was important to you, and all you do is lie to us, scheme behind our backs.”
“Beyond disappointed,” she texted.
Prosecutors say the boy was not readmitted to his school because of his poor academic performance, the Chronicle reports. His attorneys say the family could no longer afford the $30,000 a year tuition.
He was due to attend public school in the fall of 2016, the Chronicle reports.
Prosecutors are not commenting during the trial. Attempts to reach the teen’s attorneys for comment were not immediately successful.