Tehachapi man charged in sister’s killing claims he blacked out from drinking half gallon of vodka

Crime Watch

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

TEHACHAPI, Calif. (KGET) — Joey Armstrong expressed confusion as to why he was in a holding cell speaking with police detectives.

Told he’d fatally stabbed his sister, he looked down and sobbed. He said he didn’t remember anything.

“I…was…drinking heavily over the weekend,” Armstrong said in police documents filed in court. “I’m still under the influence right now. I don’t remember.”

An investigator asked what he’d drunk, and how much.

“Vodka,” Armstrong, 36, said in the documents. “A lot of it. Half a gallon. The cheap stuff from Albertsons, Vatoli (sic) I think.”

He told police he’s a longtime alcoholic, and his blackouts and alcohol-induced rage have become worse.

A detective wrote in the documents that Armstrong said he realized he needed to be locked up if he killed his sister.

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

Charged with first-degree murder, Armstrong is held on $1 million bail and next due in court Sept. 30.

Family members say in documents Armstrong argued with his sister, Gina Armstrong, 37, because she left windows open while the air-conditioning was running in the house they shared in the 1400 block of Green Street. He paid a portion of the utility bills and didn’t want his sister running up expenses.

Joey Armstrong’s wife and children and the father of Joey and Gina Armstrong also lived in the house.

During his police interview, Joey Armstrong said he suspected his sister of intentionally throwing away his toddler’s baby food and hiding forks.

During the Sept. 9 argument about the air-conditioning, Gina Armstrong told her brother that their recently deceased mother would be ashamed of him, the documents say.

Joey Armstrong walked to his bedroom and removed a knife from the dresser drawer, according to a witness. He left the room, and shortly afterward the witness heard Gina Armstrong emit “blood-curdling” screams.

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

Gina Armstrong was flown to Kern Medical, where she was pronounced dead. She suffered multiple stab wounds.

The wife of Joey Armstrong told police she and her husband have both engaged in “domestic violence incidents” with each other. She said they had separated for 10 years but recently got back together.

She said Joey Armstrong didn’t have a recent history of violence, and she believes his anger was building up over time, according to the documents. She said he never mentioned hurting anyone.

Despite claiming not remembering the stabbing, Joey Armstrong afterward changed into a clean shirt and left the bloody shirt hidden behind a laundry basket, police said in the documents. A Ka-Bar knife with a 7-inch blade was found in the front yard.

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