AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nearly a year and a half after professional cyclist Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson was shot and killed at an Austin home last May, jury selection in the trial of the woman accused of murdering Wilson began Monday.
Kaitlin Armstrong was charged in relation to Wilson’s death. Armstrong pleaded not guilty in July 2022, with her arrest and plea following a 43-day fugitive hunt tracking her from Austin to Costa Rica, where she was ultimately arrested and detained.
The jury has been selected and Armstrong’s trial is set to begin Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Austin.
Background on Mo Wilson’s murder
In the evening on May 11, 2022, the Austin Police Department responded to a 911 call at a residence along Maple Avenue in east Austin. Police discovered an unconscious woman with a gunshot wound, who ultimately died at the scene.
That woman was later identified as Wilson, a professional cyclist known for her expertise in gravel and mountain bike racing. She was in Texas and slated to compete in the Gravel Locos race in Hico, approximately 135 miles north of Austin, cycling outlet VeloNews reported at the time.
Armstrong’s Jeep was captured in the area near the Austin home around the time of Wilson’s death. APD questioned Armstrong a day after the murder, according to APD Det. Richard Spitler. She was released from custody on a prior misdemeanor warrant “because her date of birth in our report management system did not match the date of birth on the warrant,” Spitler said in a news conference at the time.
On May 14, 2022, Armstrong flew from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Houston Hobby Airport before connecting to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, with surveillance footage capturing her at AUS. On May 17, 2022, APD issued an arrest warrant for Armstrong, with the arrest affidavit accusing her of first-degree murder.
Court records detail Wilson went for a swim with a friend, a fellow professional cyclist named Colin Strickland, the night of her death.
Strickland told police he’d been in a relationship with Armstrong for three years, according to documents. During a break in their relationship, he met and began dating Wilson, per the affidavit.
Strickland and Armstrong were living together and police said Strickland lied to Armstrong about his whereabouts May 11, 2022. He told her he’d dropped flowers off for someone and his phone died.
Strickland dropped Wilson off at the east Austin home around 8:35 p.m. May 11, 2022, per documents. One minute later, security camera footage showed Armstrong’s car pull up. Strickland separately confirmed the car shown in the security footage was Armstrong’s.
On May 21, 2022, Wilson’s family issued a statement to KXAN clarifying details around Wilson’s alleged romantic relationship with Strickland.
“While we will not elaborate about the ongoing investigation, we do feel it’s important to clarify that at the time of her death, those closest to her clearly understood, directly from Moriah, that she was not in a romantic relationship with anyone,” the family wrote in the statement.
Investigators said based on a search of Wilson’s phone, text messages indicated she was “still in a romantic relationship with Strickland even though he was currently dating Armstrong.”
The 43-day search for Armstrong
The U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force issued a warrant poster for Armstrong on May 20, 2022 and confirmed it was “conducting a fugitive investigation and pursing leads on Armstrong’s whereabouts.”
After a 43-day search — including discoveries of her sold Jeep in Austin and flights out of the Newark Liberty International Airport — the U.S. Marshals discovered and captured Armstrong in Costa Rica on June 30, 2022. Officials said she was found with an altered appearance, including shortened and dyed hair, bandaging on her nose and bruising under her eyes.
She was extradited to the U.S. and booked in Harris County Jail on July 2, 2022, before arriving in Austin July 5, 2022. She entered her not guilty plea on July 20, 2022.
Armstrong’s legal defense filed documents attempting the removal of evidence being used in court, arguing she wasn’t questioned correctly by APD. Ultimately, those legal requests were denied by the judge.
Armstrong appeared in court on Oct. 19 and Oct. 24, 2022 as part of a pre-trial hearing. Originally, Armstrong’s trial was slated to begin June 22 of this year; that was ultimately postponed to Oct. 30.
Armstrong attempts to escape Travis County custody
On Oct. 11, Armstrong attempted to escape custody of the Travis County corrections officers ahead of the murder trial. She ran from officers while leaving a medical office building shortly after 8 a.m. on Oct. 11. After a 10-minute chase, officers caught up with her and restrained her.
Jail records showed Armstrong faced a second-degree felony charge of escape causing bodily injury following her attempted escape Oct. 11, KXAN reported Oct. 12. The Travis County Sheriff’s Office confirmed one corrections officer was injured while trying to apprehend her.
As to whether the added charge and escape attempt could impact Armstrong’s trial, former Travis County Prosecutor Alan Bennet said it’s ultimately up to a judge to decide whether the escape attempt is admissible in court.