Tehachapi man sentenced to prison in sister’s stabbing death

Crime Watch

Joey Armstrong covers his face with a piece of paper as a public defender stands by him in court. File image.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Tehachapi man who pleaded no contest to fatally stabbing his sister following an argument over running the air-conditioning in the house they shared was sentenced Tuesday to 16 years to life in prison.

Joey Ramon Armstrong, 37, pleaded no contest last month to second-degree murder in exchange for a prison term of 15-years-to-life for the murder charge, plus an extra year for an enhancement for using a dangerous weapon. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed a charge of first-degree murder, which carries a prison term of 25 years to life.

On Sept. 9 of last year, law enforcement was called to a house on Green Street in Tehachapi, where 37-year-old Gina Armstrong was found with stab wounds. She was pronounced dead after being taken to Kern Medical.

Joey Armstrong argued with his sister that day because she left windows open while the air-conditioning was running, family members told detectives. He paid a portion of the utility bills and didn’t want his sister running up expenses in the house they shared with their father and Joey Armstrong’s wife and children.

During the argument, family said, Gina Armstrong told her brother their deceased mother would be ashamed of him. Joey Armstrong grabbed a knife from his bedroom, a witness said in court documents. Shortly after, the witness heard “blood-curdling” screams.

Family members found Gina Armstrong lying on the garage floor, bleeding and semiconscious, according to the documents. Joey Armstrong stood a few feet from her, still holding the knife and with blood on his shirt, the filings said.

Joey Armstrong claimed to have been blackout drunk during the stabbing, but investigators noted he had changed into a clean shirt and left the bloody shirt he had been wearing hidden behind a laundry basket. A Ka-Bar knife with a 7-inch blade was found in the front yard.

During an interview with detectives, Armstrong sobbed upon being told his sister was dead, the documents said. He said he had drunk a half gallon of vodka, didn’t remember anything and was still intoxicated.

He told detectives he needed to be locked up.

“He suggested maybe he needed a lobotomy,” a detective wrote in the documents. “He realized that he was going to have to live with what he did.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.