Kaitlin Armstrong Found Guilty in Murder of the Cyclist Moriah Wilson

Kaitlin Armstrong Found Guilty in Murder of the Cyclist Moriah Wilson

Kaitlin Armstrong was found guilty of first-degree murder on Thursday in the death of Moriah Wilson, a professional cyclist who had briefly dated Ms. Armstrong’s boyfriend and was killed while visiting Austin, Texas, for a bike race 18 months ago.

State District Judge Brenda Kennedy said that the jury delivered the guilty verdict against Ms. Armstrong after deliberating for about two hours. After the verdict was announced, more witnesses were called to testify as the court sought to determine what the sentence will be before going into recess late in the afternoon.

It was unclear when Ms. Armstrong would be sentenced. Her lawyer declined to comment, citing a gag order in the case, which drew international attention as details about the investigation and Ms. Armstrong’s whereabouts slowly emerged.

Rickey Jones, a state prosecutor, said in his opening statement that Ms. Armstrong was “not happy” that her boyfriend at the time, Colin Strickland, had been communicating with Ms. Wilson. Mr. Strickland and Ms. Armstrong had an “on-and-off-again” relationship and lived together, Mr. Jones said, though he had briefly dated Ms. Wilson during an off-period in October 2021.

Ms. Wilson was found unconscious and bleeding from gunshot wounds at a friend’s apartment on May 11, 2022, and was pronounced dead at the scene. She had gone swimming with Mr. Strickland hours before her death.

Mr. Jones said that Ms. Armstrong’s Jeep had been seen near the apartment less than an hour before gunshots were heard. Ms. Armstrong also owned a handgun that was used in the shooting, Mr. Jones said.

The Austin Police Department named Ms. Armstrong, now 35, as a suspect and issued a warrant for her arrest six days after Ms. Wilson, 25, was killed. By then, Ms. Armstrong had left Texas for New York and would soon fly to Costa Rica, where she evaded the authorities for 43 days and tried to establish herself as a yoga teacher, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. Weeks before the trial began, Ms. Armstrong attempted to escape police custody, leading corrections officers on a brief chase.

Ms. Wilson, who lived in San Francisco and was raised in Vermont, was a rising star in the cycling world, particularly in the discipline of gravel cycling, a blend of mountain biking and road cycling, before she was killed. She won a 137-mile off-road race, the Belgian Waffle Ride California, by 25 minutes in April 2022, and had recently decided to leave her job as a demand planner at Specialized Bicycles to focus on cycling full-time.

Ms. Wilson, also known as Mo, was looking forward to months of intense races when she traveled to Austin in May 2022 for the 150-mile Gravel Locos in nearby Hico, Texas, she told VeloNews, a competitive cycling magazine, earlier that month.

Mr. Jones said that on the day Ms. Wilson was killed, she went on a three-mile bike ride and then visited the Deep Eddy Pool with Mr. Strickland, 36, also a professional cyclist.

Mr. Strickland said in a statement in May 2022, after Ms. Wilson’s death, that when she visited Austin, their relationship was “platonic.” That month, Ms. Wilson’s family also said in a statement that she was “not in a romantic relationship with anyone” at the time of her death.

Mr. Strickland testified at trial that Ms. Armstrong had had access to his financial records, his email and his Instagram account because she managed a business for him, The Austin American-Statesman reported.

Ms. Armstrong’s lawyers said during the trial that the police had named Ms. Armstrong as the suspect too quickly and that someone else could have killed Ms. Wilson. Ms. Armstrong did not testify.

Rick Cofer, a lawyer for Ms. Armstrong, said that the case against her was based “on assumptions, confirmation bias and a lack of direct evidence.”

Mr. Cofer said that suggesting Ms. Armstrong had killed Ms. Wilson because she was jealous was an easy narrative for prosecutors. “Jealousy is a fundamentally human emotion,” he said.

The day after Ms. Wilson was killed, the police questioned Ms. Armstrong about the death, having found that she had a Jeep similar to the one seen outside the apartment. She was released.

Ms. Armstrong then sold her black Jeep Grand Cherokee for $12,200 and flew to New York on May 14, 2022. Three days later, the Austin Police Department issued a warrant for her arrest. And on May 18, she used a fraudulent passport to fly to San José, Costa Rica, from Newark, N.J., the U.S. Marshals Service said.

Ms. Armstrong was on the run for 43 days before she was arrested in Costa Rica in June 2022, after altering her appearance and attempting to set up a yoga-teaching business. She was found at a hostel in Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas on Costa Rica’s west coast, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

Ms. Armstrong had used several aliases in Costa Rica and had cut her hair and dyed it brown, Brandon Filla, a deputy U.S. marshal, said at a news conference in July 2022. When she was arrested, she also had a bandage on her nose and discoloration under her eyes, which she said was caused by a surfboard accident, Mr. Filla said. In the trial, the prosecution said Ms. Armstrong had undergone plastic surgery in Costa Rica.

Ms. Armstrong was extradited to the United States and arrived in Austin on July 5, 2022. She pleaded not guilty later that month.

As the trial approached, Ms. Armstrong attempted to escape police custody on Oct. 11.

Kristen Dark, a spokeswoman for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, said Ms. Armstrong ran from two corrections officers while leaving a medical appointment and made it about a block and a half before she was recaptured.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top