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“All American Murder”: Antonio & Dawn Armstrong Homicides Featured on ’20/20′ December 15 2023

The case of Antonio and Dawn Armstrong’s murder in July 2016 remains one of the most perplexing and heart-wrenching stories in recent memory. Their son, AJ Armstrong, faced three trials over seven years, with each trial bringing new twists and turns. ABC’s “20/20” is set to air a comprehensive episode titled “All American Murder” on December 15, 2023, delving deep into this complex case.

The Armstrong Family: All American Family

The Armstrongs were a symbol of success and family values. Antonio Sr. had risen from Houston’s Fifth Ward to NFL fame before becoming a motivational speaker and associate pastor. Dawn, his wife, was a devoted mother and partner.

They had three children: Josh, Antonio Jr. (AJ), and Kayra. The family was involved in their church, ran a gym called 1st Class Gym, and emphasized education and sports.

The Night of the Murder & Investigation

In the early hours of July 29, 2016, AJ Armstrong’s 911 call reported hearing gunshots in his parents’ bedroom. When police arrived, they found a nightmarish scene: Dawn Armstrong was dead, and Antonio Armstrong was critically injured, later succumbing to his wounds.

A note near the murder weapon ominously read, “I HAVE BEEN WATCHING YOU FOR A LONG TIME. COME GET ME.” AJ, then 16, and his sister Kayra, 12 at the time, were both at home, leading to an immediate and intense investigation.

During the initial investigation, AJ’s behavior raised suspicions. Notably, AJ muttered, “It’s all my fault,” during the 911 call. The police separated the siblings, and AJ was eventually charged with capital murder. His older brother, Josh, deeply affected by the incident, showed signs of severe mental health issues.

Prolonged Legal Proceedings & Conviction of AJ Armstrong

The ensuing legal saga spanned almost a decade, with AJ facing three separate trials. Each trial ended in a hung jury, reflecting the complexities and uncertainties surrounding the case. Key points of contention included the lack of forced entry, AJ’s behavior and comments during the 911 call, and the absence of gunshot residue on him.

The breakthrough in the case came with new evidence, overlooked for years. This included blood found on AJ’s shirt and alarm records contradicting his account. These revelations, combined with AJ’s previous actions, such as setting a fire near his parents’ bedroom and firing the murder weapon days before the murders, solidified the case against him. Ultimately, AJ was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

“All American Murder” on “20/20”

The “20/20” episode promises an in-depth exploration of the case, featuring interviews with key figures such as Harris County prosecutors John Jordan and Ryan Trask, retired Houston Police Department Detective Jimmy Dodson, defense attorneys Rick Detoto and Chris Collings, and AJ Armstrong himself. The program aims to shed light on the evidence, the investigation’s twists, and the emotional toll on the Armstrong family and community.

The “All American Murder” episode on “20/20” is set to provide a comprehensive look at a case that gripped the nation.

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