AUSTIN (KXAN) — The first two days of Kaitlin Armstrong’s murder trial involved graphic crime scene images, home surveillance video of the night Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson was killed, and in-depth questioning about the process of gathering evidence at the scene.
Armstrong is accused of shooting and killing Wilson in May 2022.
KXAN’s Brianna Hollis will be in court Friday and providing live updates on social media platform X:
KAITLIN ARMSTRONG DAY 3: Testimony will continue in about 30 minutes. I’ll be live tweeting on this thread. Catch up on some of yesterday’s coverage in the video below as well as this link @KXAN_News >> https://t.co/PFzpTWuYVx pic.twitter.com/uEMblXi46m— Brianna Hollis (@BriHollisNEWS) November 3, 2023
While the state mapped out a timeline through phone, GPS, video surveillance and DNA evidence prosecutors believe pin Armstrong for Wilson’s murder, the defense’s primary argument in opening statements was that none of the video shows Armstrong in person, just a car that may belong to her.
The state also addressed the relationship between Armstrong, Wilson and Armstrong’s then-boyfriend Colin Strickland.
Wilson’s brother Matt was the first to testify Wednesday. He spoke to his sister’s personality. Caitlin Cash delivered an emotional testimony next. She’s the friend Wilson stayed with while she was in town for a race, and it was Cash who called 911 after finding Wilson inside her apartment covered in blood.
On Thursday, one detective and two crime scene analysts delivered detailed testimony about how they processed the scene, and they answered questions from both sides about the process of gathering and preserving evidence.
Four people who live near the home where Wilson died also testified. In their doorbell camera videos, you can hear screams followed by gunshots.
Cameras are not allowed inside during testimony, but we have a crew sitting in on every day of the trial. We will update this story throughout the day and bring you the latest on air as well.
Another neighbor testifies first Friday morning
Daniel Sheer was the first to take the stand Friday. He lives near Cash’s apartment, where Wilson was killed.
Police contacted Sheer asking for his home surveillance footage. Sheer said he found a card from a detective at his front door a few days after the shooting with a note requesting the footage. Sheer obliged.
Defense attorney Rick Cofer asked Sheer if he knew Strickland or Armstrong or had ever seen Armstrong in person before seeing her in court Friday. Sheer said no.
Police testify about communication with Colin Strickland after the shooting
The State played police body camera video of homicide detectives’ first interaction with Colin Strickland at Strickland’s home.
In the video, APD first asks Strickland if he knows an “Anna Moriah” and Strickland looks confused until police say “Mo Wilson.”
“There’s no easy way to say this sir–but it appears that last night she passed away,” APD informs Strickland, telling him her death is being investigated as a homicide. At this point, Strickland covers his face with his hands, then puts his hands on his hips and looks down.
Strickland explained that he and Wilson had hung out the day before, and he dropped her off just before dark at Cash’s apartment and did not go upstairs. Strickland also spoke very highly of Cash to police officers, calling her a “sweetheart” and talking about how close she and Wilson were.
Strickland told police what Wilson was wearing as they hung out, which matches crime scene photos shown earlier in the trial. Detectives asked him about his relationship with Wilson, and Strickland said they had a brief relationship while he and Armstrong were on a break in 2021 but only maintained a friendship when he and Armstrong got back together.
In the video, you can see and hear Strickland consent to going to police headquarters to issue an official statement.
As the video played, Wilson’s friends and family had their eyes glued to the screen on the left side of the courtroom. Armstrong looked at the screen in the front of the courtroom.
The judge excused the jury before the court viewed the video so the defense could issue objections if they wished. The defense objected to most of the video. The judge has allowed the jury to view the whole video but ruled the audio must be cut after the first few minutes, essentially just enough to capture Strickland’s initial reaction.
Before the video played, Sgt. Jason Ayers was on the stand talking about the process of going to talk to Strickland. Ayers said he and another homicide detective identified Strickland for questioning because he appeared to be the last person who saw Wilson. Ayers also said he had been told there was a black Jeep with a bike rack near the crime scene at the time of Wilson’s death, and he saw a black Jeep with a bike rack at Strickland’s home when he and Detective Richard Spitler went to question him.
While serving a search warrant, investigators found the following inside Strickland and Armstrong’s home:
- Armstrong’s passport, $500 in cash, foreign currency and her sister’s passport card on a table
- Two firearms and several rounds of ammo
Colin Strickland testifies
Colin Strickland took the stand in Kaitlin Armstrong’s murder trial Friday afternoon.
He began by talking about his relationship with Armstrong. He called it a “sometimes tumultuous” relationship that was “at times extremely comfortable and loving.”
The State asked him about how he met Wilson and about when their brief romance took place. Strickland said their relationship was entirely platonic for about the first year they knew each other, but they went on a date in late 2021 when Wilson spent some time in Austin, at a point where Strickland and Armstrong had been broken up.
Strickland said he and Armstrong broke up because they got in a fight about Strickland going on a mountain bike ride with Wilson and some others after a race in Arkansas.
After Wilson left town, Strickland said he and Armstrong eventually got back together in December of 2021. The two had lived together during portions when they were broken up.
Strickland testified about Mo telling him of a phone call she received from Armstrong while Armstrong and Strickland were broken up, confronting Wilson about her relationship with Strickland.
“She was upset,” Strickland said of Wilson’s reaction.
Strickland said Armstrong had access to his email and social media passwords and therefore access to his text messages.
He also addressed a time in December of 2021 when he purchased two handguns after Armstrong told him she was paranoid about certain things, like going on bike rides alone in the woods and a homeless camp near their home.
The State asked if Strickland knew Caitlin Cash, the woman Wilson was staying with in town. Strickland said yes and spoke very highly of Cash.
Strickland testified about spending the day with Wilson on May 11, saying he dropped her off at Cash’s after they went to Deep Eddy and Pool Burger and never went inside the apartment.
His testimony will continue Monday.