The trial of 27-year-old Auston Bryce Armstrong began Monday afternoon. Armstrong was originally scheduled to enter his plea on Friday but delayed his decision and eventually pled “not guilty” to recklessly causing the death of Brittani Davis, who was the girlfriend of his brother, Tyler Armstrong.
Davis was killed after being violently pushed to the ground while attempting to stop the elder Armstrong brother from fighting with his father. Davis was not the only person injured during the skirmish. Tyler Armstrong was stabbed by his brother twice during his attempts to calm him. The incident in question happened on the night of December 24, 2019, outside of the Armstrong family home during the waning hours of a family Christmas party. In September, Auston Armstrong was found guilty of one count of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon to a family member. That trial was for the stabbing of his brother.
Kimberly Armstrong, the mother of both Auston and Tyler, was the first witness called to the stand on Monday.
Mrs. Armstrong said that she thought of Brittani as a daughter and said that before these terrible events happened, she would have described their Christmas celebration together as “perfect.”
Armstrong testified the night soured while she was stood in the kitchen and overheard what she thought was arguing in the next room. She then said that her son Tyler waved her off as if to tell her that everything was fine. The arguing soon became more heated and her husband Troy Armstrong, a retired Dallas Fire Department lieutenant, reportedly came into the room and told them all to be quiet.
Auston Armstrong hit his father in the face, which caused potentially permanent numbness in his face and structural damage to his orbital bone.
The trauma of the night has caused the parties involved to have a hard time remembering exactly how and when everything happened. Mrs. Armstrong says that she remembers Auston charging toward a vehicle in which his father was the passenger. During that charge she watched Auston push Brittani hard to the ground, so hard that her hair seemed to stay in place while her body moved quickly in the opposite direction.
Kimberly Armstrong says she checked on Brittani and thought that she had just been knocked out. While attending to her, she heard her son Tyler exclaim, “Bro, did you really just stab me?”
He had, in fact, been stabbed. Tyler was stabbed twice by Auston, once in the arm and once in the heart, with a pocket knife. With tears in her eyes, Kimberly Armstrong then recounted having to put her finger inside her son's wound at his direction in order to slow the bleeding long enough for him to be airlifted to the hospital.
“It was a miracle he made it," Kimberly Armstrong said.
After a 10-minute break in the trial, Tyler Armstrong was called to the stand. His account of the night mostly mirrored that of his mother's.
Tyler did add to the story that before Auston attempted to get to the car, he said “I hate him so much…I could just kill him," referring to his father.
That quote and Auston shoving Brittani to the ground were the reasons Tyler felt it necessary put Auston in a chokehold to try and calm him down, which eventually led to him being stabbed twice.
After he woke up from surgery, Armstrong said his mother told him Davis had died. Tyler Armstrong explained to the court how close he was with Brittani, adding that she was “a huge part of my life." He found it difficult to find the words to describe how hard it has been after her death.
Tyler Armstrong had never lived alone before this tragedy struck his family. Now the 24-year-old Dallas firefighter finds himself waking up every morning in an empty bed.
Before leaving the stand, Tyler Armstrong wanted the jury to know that he loves his brother and doesn’t think that he intentionally killed Davis, but he doesn’t think he will ever be able to forgive him and wants him to be punished for his crimes “to the fullest extent of the law."
The final witness called to the stand on day one was Crystal Ballard, a nurse practitioner who was visiting her boyfriend’s father’s house, which neighbors the Armstrong family home. She testified her boyfriend was able to hear Kimberly Armstrong’s cries for help from quite a distance away from their house. When she made her way to the Armstrong residence, she attempted to give CPR to Brittani Davis while EMTs made their way to the home. She recounted that at first Brittani had a faint pulse and seemed to be breathing, but both soon faded, and she thought Brittani had died there on the scene. The nurse was dismissed from the stand and made her way out of the courtroom with tears in her eyes as she walked past Brittani Davis’ family, who were in attendance.
On Tuesday, Auston Armstrong testified in his own defense.
He testified he didn't remember anything he said that night. He said he remembered heading toward a vehicle that had his father and girlfriend inside when Davis stepped in his path, and he pushed her aside.
He had no intent of harming her, he said.
After closing arguments on Tuesday, the jury began deliberating the case. Deliberations are set to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Herald publisher Amy Fowler contributed to this report.