AUSTIN (KXAN) — As testimony wrapped Monday, a firearms forensics examiner, Steven Aston, discussed the bullets found at the east Austin apartment where police believe Kaitlin Armstrong killed Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson on May 11, 2022.
He continued his testimony Tuesday, addressing how his team ensures their ballistic examinations are unbiased. He has previously identified the projectiles found on the scene – two bullets in different conditions and one set of bullet fragments – as coming from the gun police said Armstrong used.
The trial began about two weeks ago. So far, we have heard from the following witnesses:
- Wilson’s brother
- Wilson’s friend Caitlin Cash who called 911 when she found Wilson wounded on the floor in her apartment
- Crime scene analysts
- Austin Police Department homicide detectives
- People who live near the home where Wilson died
- Armstrong’s former boyfriend Colin Strickland who was friends with Wilson
- Armstrong’s friends
- A U.S. Deputy Marshal who found Armstrong in Costa Rica about one month after Wilson’s death
- The owner of a gun range Armstrong went to months before the murder
The defense’s primary argument is that while surveillance video and other data show Armstrong’s Jeep at the scene when Wilson died, videos don’t capture Armstrong herself.
Police issued an arrest warrant for Armstrong on May 17, 2022, about one week after Wilson was killed. Surveillance video captures Armstrong at the airport on May 14, 2022. She ultimately made it to Costa Rica before getting arrested there about a month and a half later, and brought back to Texas.
Cameras are not allowed inside the courtroom during testimony, but KXAN has a crew inside and will update this article throughout the day. Crime reporter Brianna Hollis will also post live updates on the social media platform “X” at the link below.
Autopsy results discussed
Dr. Bernadette Derussy took the stand second on Tuesday. She performed the autopsy on Wilson.
The State began by asking her about the state in which she received the body at the Medical Examiner’s Office. Derussy said Wilson’s body was in a trace evidence blanket and was in the same state it was on the scene, therefore maintaining its evidentiary and investigatory integrity.
She testified in gruesome detail about the gunshot wounds, saying Wilson was shot twice in the head and once in the heart. This matches former testimony about the injuries. Derussy also noted a gunshot wound on Wilson’s index finger and a graze wound on her leg. She said the finger wound could be a defensive wound, indicating Wilson may have been trying to protect herself.
Derussy said the official cause of death was gunshot wounds.
As the State displayed autopsy photos to the jury, Armstrong looked down.
Officer addresses Armstrong running from corrections officers
Officer Rosalda Johnson with Travis County’s Hospital Visitation Unit said she and her partner transported Armstrong to an orthopedic doctor’s appointment in south Austin on Oct. 11 of this year.
That’s the day Armstrong briefly escaped, leading officers on a chase for about 10 minutes spanning roughly half a mile. Johnson testified to what exactly happened.
Before departing, Johnson said Armstrong had a metal chain around her waist that was attached to her handcuffs – adding that Armstrong had a note from a doctor stating Armstrong couldn’t wear shackles around her ankles.
Upon leaving the appointment, Johnson said she held the door open so Armstrong and the other officer could walk out. At the time, a nurse told Johnson they had forgotten some paperwork, so Johnson addressed that with her.
“My partner says ‘she’s escaping,'” Johnson said about what happened next.
Johnson testified that she immediately started to chase Armstrong, and at some point, Armstrong got one of her arm’s loose from her handcuffs. Johnson said Armstrong ran around the parking lot of the doctor’s office and eventually crossed S. 1st street before Johnson caught and apprehended her at 3811 Wilson St.
While Judge Brenda Kennedy ruled prosecutors could use this incident as part of their case against Armstrong, charges stemming from the escape itself are unrelated to the murder trial.
Two DNA specialists with the DPS crime lab testified Tuesday as well: Alejandra Gil and her supervisor, Samantha Perkins.
Gil prepped DNA from Wilson’s bicycle, Armstrong’s firearm and saliva samples from Armstrong, Wilson, Strickland and Caitlin Cash. Cash is the friend Wilson stayed with when she visited.
Perkins analyzed and interpreted that DNA. She said results showed Armstrong’s DNA present on Wilson’s bicycle, which was found near the murder scene, as well as on the firearm. She said Strickland’s DNA was also present on the firearm, but not as strongly as Armstrong’s.
Phone, GPS records
Pamela Mazak, a criminal intelligence analyst with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, presented an interactive report to jurors with details about Armstrong’s, Wilson’s and Strickland’s phone records on the day of the murder. The report also included location data for Armstrong’s Jeep via data extracted from its infotainment system.
In her testimony, she first walked through a text conversation between Armstrong and Strickland in October 2021. Strickland previously testified that he and Armstrong were not together at that time.
Phone records show Armstrong texting Strickland about Wilson and then Armstrong calling Wilson. Strickland then texts Armstrong after that phone call to ask her about it, and she said she couldn’t talk.
Mazak then walked the jury through the three’s interactions and locations on May 11, 2022. This includes Wilson and Strickland texting about plans for the evening. Records show Wilson’s name now listed as “Christine Wall” on Strickland’s phone.
Wilson and Strickland made plans to go swimming, according to the records, and Strickland did not respond to a text from Armstrong during that time frame. Location data shows Wilson and Strickland arrive at Deep Eddy together after 5 p.m.
Strickland previously testified to this timeline, and the details coincide.
Mazak said data from Armstrong’s phone and Jeep put Armstrong at home most of the day, until she went to the South Lamar area around 6:30 p.m.
Mazak has both the Jeep’s and the phone’s location noted on her interactive map and timeline, indicating they’re both traveling together. These locations match the testimony Detective Daniel Portnoy with APD presented last week regarding the Jeep’s track.
The report shows Armstrong’s Jeep circling the block of Cash’s apartment, where Wilson was killed, and then staying in the area.
Mazak said the Jeep’s data “went dead,” indicating the vehicle was likely turned off, around 8:45 p.m. around the corner from Cash’s apartment. Other data indicated Wilson and Strickland arrived at the apartment around 8:30 p.m.
Phone location data shows Strickland on his way home at 8:37 p.m. when he sent Armstrong a text asking if she was home.
Wilson’s last text, according to Mazak’s report, was around 9:13 p.m. to a west coast podcaster. About two minutes later, gunshots were heard on a nearby surveillance camera. At 9:17, the Jeep began a “new track” starting around the corner from the murder scene, where Mazak believes it was turned off about 30 minutes prior.
Throughout the report, Mazak presented other evidence, like receipts and surveillance video, that corroborate the locations indicated in the location data.