Defense, prosecutors in AJ Armstrong trial dismiss duel requests ahead of jury selection

Tension is mounting between the two sides in AJ Armstrong’s high-profile third murder trial, with both the defense and prosecution filing motions days before jury selection is set to begin. On Thursday, defense attorney Rick DeToto filed motions to postpone the jury selection and instead hold a hearing to discuss an alleged affair between a juror and a Harris County prosecutor. Although the motion was denied, prosecutors filed another motion the next day, asking for “the many errors” to be corrected and for another level of review to be added before the court documents were made public.

According to the defense, a former Harris County assistant district attorney disclosed during Armstrong’s second trial that the prosecutor was dating a juror, and the defense argues that this information was not disclosed during jury selection, depriving Armstrong of his right to a fair trial by impartial jurors. The state’s response, filed on Friday, argues that the person in question sat as a substitute juror and that the prosecutor never had any connection with the case or acted as a prosecutor on it. Additionally, the District Attorney’s Office claims that “Alternate Jurors do not deliberate with sitting jurors.”

In Armstrong’s second trial, the jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict, resulting in a hung jury. Prosecutors are now asking the judge to take action to “protect the integrity of the jury selection process,” citing the defense’s latest motion as an attempt to “contaminate the jury pool.” This comes after Judge Kelli Johnson issued a publicity order in January, barring attorneys from making “out-of-court statements” in response to the high-profile case and lawyers’ willingness to give interviews. The order was issued after a national news outlet published inadmissible testimony and evidence following the second mistrial.

Prosecutors argue that the earlier order of silence is “insufficient to protect the integrity of the jury selection process.” Meanwhile, the defense seeks to ensure that their client receives a fair trial by impartial jurors. This tension comes to a head as the trial approaches and both sides try to gain an upper hand.

In response to the trial’s growing interest, KPRC 2 presents “The Bench,” a program hosted by investigative journalist Joel Eisenbaum that will decode legalese, break down arguments, and provide insight into the case from a panel of experts and journalists, including Rilwan Balogun. Starting on Monday, the special coverage will kick-off at 8:00 am on KPRC 2+.

As the case gains more attention, the tensions between the defense and prosecution continue to rise. With the trial fast approaching, both sides are doing all they can to ensure their client receives a fair trial, and the outcome remains to be seen.

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