Last updated: 26 days ago
The shooting occurred after Armstrong made a call to his station April 16, 1982, falsely reporting a disturbance at a Duarte home--which he believed to be a drug-trafficking site--in order to justify a raid there.
When he and other deputies kicked the door down at 2 a.m., Delois Young, who was pregnant, confronted them with an unloaded rifle and was shot by Armstrong. Her eighth-month fetus died.
A jury convicted Armstrong of murdering the fetus, a charge that could have carried a term of more than 15 years to life in state prison. The jury also convicted him of attempted murder for the wounding of the mother.
However, Superior Court Judge William B. Keene reduced the murder conviction and dismissed the conviction concerning the mother, saying they were unsupported by evidence that Armstrong had intended to kill.
Keene placed Armstrong on probation for five years, requiring him to spend one of those years in County Jail.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the district attorney's contention that Keene's modification resulted in "a crucial error of law," because Armstrong, as an aggressor, had no right to claim self-defense.
"He attempted to illegally enter a dwelling at 2 a.m. by force," the court stated. "It goes without saying that his status as a deputy sheriff did not justify such conduct. If anything, it rendered it more reprehensible."
July 1985 Convicted of murdering the fetus