Son of Ex-NFL Player, Charged with Killing Parents, Allegedly Claimed He Saw Masked Man in House

Antonio Armstrong's Son, Charged with Murder, Allegedly Said He Saw Masked Man

 

The 16-year-old son of a former NFL linebacker will likely be charged with capital murder in the Friday deaths of his parents in Houston, authorities tell PEOPLE.

The teen allegedly fatally shot Antonio and Dawn Armstrong in their bedroom and allegedly initially claimed to police that a masked man had come into the home before his story collapsed, prosecutors say.

However, the teen “adamantly [denies] that he has committed these murders,” defense attorney Rick Detoto tells PEOPLE.

The teen reportedly called authorities himself and said he heard gunshots in his parents’ room, had seen a masked man and that he was hiding in a closet.

But police said that through subsequent investigation and based on “conflicting stories,” their focus turned toward the teen, whose name has not been released because he is a juvenile, according to Harris County District Attorney spokesman Jeff McShan.

Antonio Armstrong Family Facebook
“[The suspect was] not able to give a convincing story of any kind,” Assistant District Attorney John Brewer said at Monday’s hearing.

Antonio, 43, and Dawn, 42, were found in their bedroom, according to a news release.

She had been shot twice in the head and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office. He was hospitalized and later died from his injuries. (The ME’s office declined to release more information on Antonio, citing pending identification of the body and a pending autopsy.)

Houston police said there were no signs of forced entry at the Armstrong home, according to their release.

Antonio Armstrong Dawn Armstrong KHOU

The suspect disabled the home’s security system to let police inside, prosecutors said at Monday’s hearing, seemingly emphasizing the incongruity of that with his original story of a masked man who had gotten inside.

Police recovered a. 22-caliber pistol at the home and a note in the kitchen, the content of which has not been released by authorities, according to the Houston Chronicle.

McShan says the teen was arrested within 24 hours of the shooting and has remained in custody ever since. Prosecutors will next move to have him certified as an adult, a process that can take several months, McShan says.

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McShan says the suspect was initially charged with murder but that will “likely” be upgraded to capital murder, as the initial charges were brought before Antonio died. (In Texas, capital murder is a special offense reserved for certain kinds of homicides, such as the killing of police, the killing of more than one person at the same time or the killing of children under 6.)

The family’s second child, a 12-year-old girl, slept through the incident, according to the Chronicle. Defense attorney Detoto tells PEOPLE she is safe and with family.

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The Defense Reacts
Detoto declined to comment on the prosecution’s specific allegations, saying he had yet to receive and review the full evidence against his client, but he reiterates his client’s innocence and says, “Just because police said something … it doesn’t mean it’s true.”

He says based on what he knows now, the state’s case is circumstantial, with no confession. The defense has had numerous people come forward with information connected to the deaths, he says.

‘The Best Parents’
Since their deaths, relatives have fondly remembered Antonio and Dawn.

Houston police declined to comment to PEOPLE on a possible motive and said inquiries about any possible previous 911 calls must go through a formal open records request.

“They were pillars of the community, they were wonderful family members, wonderful friends to anyone who knew them or ever crossed their paths,” one Armstrong relative told the Chronicle. “They were the type of people that made things happen. They were kind, loving to their family, their friends, and the best parents that you would ever meet in your life.

“They are the family that when everyone saw them, they’re the family that everyone wanted to be like,” the relative added.

Antonio and Dawn owned a local gym and Antonio was also a pastor at his mother’s church, according to the Chronicle. A former football star at Texas A&M, Antonio went on to play briefly in the NFL, seeing his only regular season duty for the Miami Dolphins in 1995.

(PEOPLE has not been able to reach the Armstrong family for comment.)

“He was just that loving kind gracious young man and my daughter, she was the same way,” Antonio’s mom, Kay Shorter, told ABC13. “She was so giving and loving and caring.”

Several of the suspect’s extended family attended Monday’s hearing, according to the Chronicle.

“Pretty much everyone that I’ve talked to absolutely supports this young man,” Detoto tells PEOPLE.

“They’re in his corner, they’re hoping to help him,” he says.

 

 

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