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Kaitlin Armstrong sentenced to 90 years for murder of cyclist Mo Wilson - Updates

Jurors returned guilty verdict against Kaitlin Armstrong on Thursday for shooting death of star cyclist Moriah ‘Mo’ Wilson

Andrea Blanco,Mike Bedigan
Saturday 18 November 2023 17:04 GMT

Kaitlin Armstrong found guilty cyclist’s murder

Kaitlin Armstrong has been sentenced to 90 years in prison for the murder of her alleged love rival Moriah “Mo” Wilson.

A jury returned the sentencing verdict after around three and a half hours of deliberation on Thursday in Austin, Texas. Armstrong will also be required to pay a fine of $10,000.

The two women were reportedly involved in a love triangle with Ms Armstrong’s then on-and-off boyfriend and Wilson’s fellow cyclist Colin Strickland.

In the aftermath of the May 2022 shooting, Ms Armstrong fled to Costa Rica and was only captured five weeks later.

The state rested its case on Wednesday morning after introducing testimony from Mr Strickland, friends of Ms Armstrong, and law enforcement personnel. The defence called experts who sought to discredit the state’s DNA and ballistics evidence.

During closing arguments, prosecutors pointed out what they suggested was overwhelming evidence linking Ms Armstrong to the crime, and asked jurors to ignore the “rabbit holes” the defence had asked them to go down.

Meanwhile, Ms Armstrong’s attorneys accused police of a sloppy investigation that too quickly focused on her as the sole suspect.

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Colin Strickland leaves court with police escort

Colin Strickland was seen leaving the courthouse after testifying on Wednesday, flanked by at least four law enforcement officers.

Mr Strickland – who was the defence’s last witness before resting its case – has previously had several negative run-ins with reporter inside and outside of the court.

Mike Bedigan16 November 2023 00:17
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What has the state argued so far?

The state honed in on evidence connecting Ms Armstrong to the crime, including DNA found on Wilson’s bike, as well as cell phone data and the infotainment system of Ms Armstrong’s Jeep placing her near the scene.

Prosecutors argued that in the days leading up to the murder, Ms Armstrong had tracked Wilson’s movements on her Strava account.

Data pulled from Ms Armstrong’s phone showed that she viewed Wilson’s Strava profile once on 9 May 2022, two days before the murder, and four times the following day. Vehicle satellite records, phone-tracking data and surveillance video from a nearby home showed Ms Armstrong’s Jeep driving around the apartment and parking in an alley shortly before Wilson was killed.

According to key testimony from Nicole Mertz, a close friend of Ms Armstrong, the defendant had voiced death threats against Wilson. Ms Mertz recounted that Ms Armstrong once said that if Mr Strickland dated another woman, she “would kill [her.]”

“My first thought was that Kaitlin might have had something to do with it,” Ms Mertz said about the moment she found out about Wilson’s killing.

Jacqueline Chasteen, a friend of Mr Strickland who eventually also befriended Ms Armstrong, also testified that during a gathering in Bentonville in early 2022, Ms Armstrong confided in her that Mr Strickland had “cheated” on her with Wilson.

“She had described how Colin had cheated but while she was describing that, she had said in so many words that she wanted to kill her,” she said, per NewsNation. “That she had thought about it. But how she said it at the time I didn’t take it seriously...she said something to the effect that she had bought a gun... I do know the words kill and the words gun were used.”

Andrea Blanco16 November 2023 01:00
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WATCH: Kaitlin Armstrong trial, summary of evidence

Kaitlin Armstrong trial: Summary of evidence
Andrea Blanco16 November 2023 02:30
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Defence says DNA found on Wilson’s bike may have transfered

There was DNA from a third, male, individual, on the handlebar of Wilson’s bike but DNA analysts were unable to build a profile with it.

A third DNA profile was also found on the seat.

Forensic DNA consultant Matthew Quartaro testified on Wednesday that he can only say with certainty that the unknown DNA does not belong to Wilson, Ms Armstrong, Mr Strickland or Caitlin Cash.

He also admitted that it is impossible to know whether Ms Armstrong’s DNA was found on the bike because she touched it, or because it transferred.

The defence has tried to argue before that Ms Armstrong’s DNA may have ended up in the bike because Wilson rode Mr Strickland’s bike that night.

Andrea Blanco16 November 2023 04:00
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Love rival murder, a harrowing 911 call and bike DNA: Key revelations in the Kaitlin Armstrong trial

Kaitlin Armstrong faces up to 99 years in prison if she’s convicted of killing professional cyclist Anna Moriah ‘Mo’ Wilson after they were allegedly involved in a love triangle.

The Independent’s Andrea Cavallier and Andrea Blanco explain the most crucial moments so far in her high-profile trial:

Key revelations in the Kaitlin Armstrong love rival murder trial so far

Kaitlin Armstrong faces up to 99 years in prison if she’s convicted of killing professional cyclist Anna Moriah ‘Mo’ Wilson after they were allegedly involved in a love triangle. Andrea Cavallier and Andrea Blanco explain the most crucial moments so far in her high-profile trial

Andrea Blanco16 November 2023 05:30
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Details about Kaitlin Armstrong’s escape revealed

Mr Strickland and Ms Armstrong were told about Wilson’s murder by Austin Police detectives on 12 May 2022, just a day after the murder. Bodycam footage shown to the court reportedly showed that the two seemed shocked after learning the tragic news.

Mr Strickland later joined investigators at the police station, where he gave a statement for nearly six hours. The following day, authorities served a search warrant and seized weapons from his home.

Crime scene specialist Mirezha Guevara testified on November 3 that while she was taking pictures of the firearms evidence and Ms Armstrong’s black Jeep, she also noticed Ms Armstrong’s passport and foreign currency inside the home.

An attorney representing both Mr Strickland and Ms Armstrong was present while the warrant was served, but investigators did not ask to interview Ms Armstrong.

However, they did ask Mr Strickland about her black Jeep, the same model of car seen on surveillance footage near the home where Wilson was found. The car had also been spotted near the swimming pool bar that Mr Strickland and Wilson had been at just hours before she was killed.

Mr Strickland suggested during his testimony that investigators knew it belonged to Ms Armstrong.

Mr Strickland said that after he was interviewed and the warrant was served, he and Ms Armstrong were exhausted. He asked her to write a timeline of her activities on the day and reportedly said she went to yoga and visited a “healer” but made no mention of seeing Wilson.

He then went to his business’ headquarters in Lockhart and did not see Ms Armstrong again.

On 14 May, Ms Armstrong took a flight from Austin to Houston. She was found in Costa Rica 43 days later.

Andrea Blanco16 November 2023 07:00
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WATCH: Kaitlin Armstrong trial day 8

Kaitlin Armstrong trial Q&A Day 8
Andrea Blanco16 November 2023 08:30
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Kaitlin Armstrong said ‘in so many words’ that she wanted to ‘kill Wilson’

Nicole Mertz, a close friend of Ms Armstrong, was called to the stand on Wednesday (8 November).

Ms Mertz said that her friend and Mr Strickland often broke up and got back together and that he referred to Ms Armstrong as “his lady friend.” Ms Mertz went on to recount that Ms Armstrong once said that if Mr Strickland dated another woman, she “would kill her.]”

“My first thought was that Kaitlin might have had something to do with it,” Ms Mertz said about the moment she found out about Wilson’s killing.

Jacqueline Chasteen, a friend of Mr Strickland who eventually also befriended Ms Armstrong, said that during a gathering in Bentonville, Ms Armstrong confided in her that Mr Strickland had “cheated” on her with Wilson.

“She had described how Colin had cheated but while she was describing that, she had said in so many words that she wanted to kill her,” she said, per NewsNation. “That she had thought about it. But how she said it at the time I didn’t take it seriously...she said something to the effect that she had bought a gun... I do know the words kill and the words gun were used.”

Andrea Blanco16 November 2023 10:00
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Timeline of Kaitlin Armstrong’s moves on night of murder

Mr Strickland dropped off Wilson at around 8.30pm.

Ms Armstrong’s Jeep, which had been parked in an alley near Ms Cash’s home, pulls up and parks again.

Wilson uses her phone and sends her last message at 9.13pm.

A surveillance video from a nearby home captured gunshot sounds and a woman’s scream at 9.16pm.

At 9:43pm, the Jeep stops at a dumpster for three minutes and then heads to Mr Strickland’s home.

911 is called at 9.55pm when Ms Cash arrives home.

Andrea Blanco16 November 2023 11:30
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What has the defence argued so far?

Defence attorneys accused police of a sloppy investigation that too quickly focused on Ms Armstrong as the sole suspect.

Ms Armstrong’s attorneys also have tried to raise doubts among jurors by suggesting someone else could have killed Wilson, and asking why prosecutors dismissed Mr Strickland as a suspect.

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 also 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.”

Elsewhere in their arguments, 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.

Mike Bedigan16 November 2023 12:30

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