Defence attorneys in the ongoing murder trial against Kaitlin Armstrong shocked the courtroom after they motioned for a mistrial over claims that an investigator had cleared her ex-boyfriend from the crime too early.
Ms Armstrong is facing trial in Austin, Texas in connection with the May 2022 killing of rising pro cyclist Anna Moriah Wilson, who prosecutors have described as Ms Armstrong’s “love rival.”
The two women were reportedly involved in a love triangle with Ms Armstrong’s then on-and-off boyfriend Colin Strickland. DNA “highly likely” from Ms Arsmtrong was found on Wilson’s bike, which was discovered lying in bamboo near the crime scene.
The yoga teacher was also linked to the scene through surveillance video that placed her black Jeep in the vicinity of the home where Wilson was found dead, as well as near the restaurant where Mr Strickland and Wilson had dined the night of her death.
On Wednesday, the defence tried to poke holes in the prosecution’s case, arguing that a lot of evidence in the case was not thoroughly reviewed, NewsNation reports. The attorneys questioned Austin Police Department detective Richard Spitler on why a rape kit performed on Wilson was never processed, and why Mr Strickland’s laptop was returned to him just eight days after the murder without having been analysed forensically.
The defence then sent shockwaves through the courtroom when they raised a mistrial motion mid-procedure, arguing that Det Spitler favoured Mr Strickland and cleared him too soon. The attorneys brought up that Det Spitler had previously met Mr Strickland at a taco deli years before the murder, also asking the detective if he thought of Mr Strickland as a “local celebrity.”
The judge quickly denied the motion.
Elsewhere in their bid, the defence argued that the prosecution did not have any witness who could place their client at the crime scene and that her fingerprints or DNA were not found at the home where Wilson was found dead. Ms Armstrong’s lawyers also asked Det Spitler why he hadn’t further interviewed two of Wilson’s ex-boyfriends, with the detective saying that phone data and other evidence placed them nowhere near the crime.
Det Spitler told the court he was confident in his decision to clear Mr Strickland and other men whose names came up during the homicide investigation. The detective refused to entertain the defence’s speculative line of questioning, saying that he could “play what-ifs” all day, but he firmly believed that Wilson was not sexually assaulted.
“There is no evidence to suggest that [Mr Strickland} would have committed a sexual offence in the time that she unlocked the door and his motorcycle is seen driving down the alley,” the detective said, according to NewsNation Correspondent Alex Caprariello.
Det Spitler reiterated that he pursued other lines of investigation but they all brought him back to Ms Armstrong.
Wilson was found lying dead in a pool of blood on 11 May 2022 by her friend Caitlin Cash, who testified last week in the highly-publicised trial. Just hours before she was killed, Wilson had gone swimming and had dinner with Mr Strickland, whom she had bonded with over their passion for professional cycling.
Ms Armstrong has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she faces up to 99 years in prison.