Kaitlin Armstrong found guilty in murder of cyclist Anna “Mo” Wilson
The woman accused in the May 2022 shooting death of rising professional cyclist Anna Moriah Wilson — known as “Mo” Wilson — has been found guilty of her murder. Jurors reached the verdict for Katilin Armstrong Thursday in court at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in Austin, Texas, concluding a criminal trial that lasted just over two weeks.
Armstrong, 35, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder in Wilson’s death. She was also charged with escape causing bodily injury, which is a felony, for allegedly trying to escape custody three weeks before the trial began. Authorities said Armstrong fled from officers as they escorted her to a doctor’s appointment on Oct. 11, but only ran for about half a block before they caught up with her.
She could potentially face up to 99 years in prison for the murder conviction, and up to 20 years in prison for the second charge if convicted. There was also an outstanding warrant for Armstrong’s arrest on a misdemeanor charge for theft of services when she was questioned by police after Wilson’s death.
When the verdict was read, Wilson’s family and friends were overcome with emotions, embracing each other and crying, CBS affiliate KEYE-TV reported.
Armstrong looked forward when the verdict was read and did not display outward emotion, KEYE-TV reported. Armstrong’s sister, Christie Armstrong, began to cry after the verdict was read in the courtroom, before defense attorney Mark Pryor walked her out.
Wilson was found fatally shot on the floor of a friend’s bathroom on May 11, 2022, just days before she was slated to compete in a cycling race that she was also favored to win. The up-and-coming athlete was 25 at the time of her death.
Police have said that Wilson previously dated Armstrong’s boyfriend, Colin Strickland, a fellow competitive cyclist, with whom Wilson remained friends after their relationship ended. Wilson and Strickland had gone swimming at a local pool hours before she was killed, according to police. Strickland told them after the murder that he had picked up Wilson earlier in the day on May 11 for the swim, and dropped her off at the friend’s house, where Wilson was staying ahead of the race in Austin, that night at around 8:30 p.m.
Armstrong worked as a yoga instructor and real estate agent in Austin, and also owned a business with Strickland. They lived together. During a period of separation in their on-off relationship, Strickland briefly dated Wilson.
Prosecutors alleged that Armstrong had been using the fitness app Strava to track Wilson’s location, since Wilson used the app to manage her workouts. They told the jury during Armstrong’s trial that her car, a Jeep, had been seen near the apartment where Wilson was staying with her friend, Caitlin Cash.
Cash testified during the first week of the trial, describing how she arrived back at her home to find Wilson covered in blood, after the cyclist had been shot in the head and chest. In addition to playing a recording of the 911 call from the night of the murder, when Cash tried to revive Wilson after finding her, prosecutors said the jury would be shown surveillance footage where Wilson could be heard screaming just before her death.
“The last thing Mo did on this earth was scream in terror. Those screams are followed by ‘pow! pow!’” said Travis County Prosecutor Rick Jones in his opening statement at the trial. He said Armstrong shot Wilson again, for the third time, seconds after that.
Armstrong’s defense said there were no witnesses to the killing, nor is there video evidence placing Armstrong at the scene of Wilson’s death. She was questioned by police and let go after the murder, but a warrant was eventually issued for Armstrong’s arrest on May 19. Before the warrant, authorities said that Armstrong sold her Jeep for cash and traveled from Austin to New York City, then from Newark, New Jersey, to Costa Rica, allegedly using her sister’s passport as her own for the trip.
Authorities said that Armstrong taught yoga while in Costa Rica and underwent plastic surgery to change her appearance, with prosecutors additionally telling the jury that Armstrong had cut her hair and changed her hair color as well. Her attorney, Geoffrey Puryear, addressed speculation about her time in Costa Rica during the trial, saying, ” “She would have no reason to know about any (arrest) warrant. You will hear Kaitlin is passionate about traveling and passionate about yoga,” CBS Texas reported.
After almost six weeks in Costa Rica, Armstrong was arrested by officers with the U.S. Marshals Service at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas, and returned back to the U.S.
Strickland also testified at Armstrong’s trial, telling the jury about how their relationship began over a dating app in 2019, and continued to date on and off for more than two years. He said Armstrong had access to his communications, the Austin American-Statesman reported, and that he had changed the name of Wilson’s contact in his phone to avoid conflict with Armstrong. He called Wilson “an immense talent” while addressing the jury.
In other testimonies, two of Amrstrong’s former friends took the stand. One of them, Nicole Mertz, knew Armstrong through the cycling community and said she considered her to be one of her closest friends, KEYE-TV reported. Mertz recalled once being at an Austin restaurant called The Meteor with Armstrong, where Armstrong had said she was upset because Wilson had come to town and was visiting Strickland, according to the station.
Mertz also said Armstrong became “visibly angry” seeing Wilson enter the restaurant, and, when Mertz asked what Armstrong would do if Strickland started dating someone else, Mertz testified that her former friend responded, “I would kill her,” reported KEYE-TV.
– Allison Gualtieri contributed reporting.
Emily Mae Czachor is a reporter and news editor at CBSNews.com. She covers breaking news, often focusing on crime and extreme weather. Emily Mae has previously written for outlets including the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed and Newsweek.
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