AUSTIN (KXAN) — The murder trial for Kaitlin Armstrong began Wednesday at 9 a.m. Armstrong is accused of shooting and killing up-and-coming professional cyclist Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson in May 2022.
Cameras are allowed inside the courtroom only for opening statements, closing arguments and the verdict, but not during witness testimony.
Even though cameras are not allowed inside during testimony, KXAN’s Brianna Hollis will be inside the courtroom and will update this story throughout the trial with the latest information. Follow her live on social media below.
State focuses on phone records in opening statements
Assistant District Attorney Rickey Jones began his opening statements by saying a few things about Wilson and her athletic endeavors, mentioning her collegiate skiing career and her recent success as a professional gravel racer.
While making his case, he presented slides detailing a timeline — gathered through phone records — of Armstrong and Wilson’s actions in the months leading up to the murder, as well as the actions of Colin Strickland, Armstrong’s then-off-and-on boyfriend.
Prosecutors said Armstrong and Strickland were business partners and she had access to his messages through their laptop and iPad. Jones said Strickland and Wilson had a brief romantic relationship. It’s important to note that Wilson’s family previously sent KXAN the following statement about Wilson’s relationship status.
“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.
Jones, in his statements, outlined the below timeline on the day Wilson died, which he said prosecutors and law enforcement gathered through phone records. Wilson was in town for a gravel race and was staying with a friend in east Austin.
- Wilson and Strickland leave Deep Eddy Pool. State said Strickland lied to Armstrong about where he was.
- 8:35 p.m.: Strickland drops Wilson off at her friend’s east Austin apartment
- 8:38 p.m.: Strickland texts Armstrong, goes home.
- 9:13 p.m.: Wilson uses her phone.
- 9:15 p.m.: Gunshots go off.
Defense: No video shows Armstrong shooting Wilson
“I want to talk to you about what you didn’t hear about,” said defense attorney Geoffrey Puryear. “Not one witness saw Kaitlin Armstrong allegedly commit this murder. Because there isn’t one.”
The defense’s primary argument appears to be the notion of while there is surveillance of gunshots and her Jeep, there is no camera footage of Armstrong actually shooting Wilson.
“You won’t hear about any camera footage of Armstrong being there,” Puryear said.
The defense reminded the jury the burden of proof is on the State to prove Armstrong is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The defense concluded opening statements within about 15 minutes. The State spoke for about one hour.
Below are both sides’ opening statements in full.
Wilson’s brother, friend testify before lunch break
Matt Wilson, Mo’s brother, was the first to take the stand.
The state asked about his sister’s collegiate skiing career as well as her up-and-coming professional cycling endeavors. He also spoke to the kind of person his sister was, saying they were both extremely close.
Matt said Wilson and Strickland did not have a romantic relationship at the time of Wilson’s death, but did previously have a casual dating relationship the previous year.
Caitlin Cash, the friend Mo Wilson stayed with when she visited Austin in May, said the same thing about Wilson and Strickland’s relationship.
During Cash’s testimony, prosecutors asked her about the night Wilson died. Cash said she found Wilson on the floor of her apartment bathroom the night of May 11 covered in blood.
The State played Cash’s 911 call to police. Cash cried on the stand as the audio played.
Responding officers, medics testify in afternoon
Martin Salinas, a former Austin police officer, took the stand when the trial resumed after the lunch break.
He said he had been with APD for a few months when he responded to the east Austin home where Wilson was killed. A field training officer was with him. Salinas is no longer with APD.
The State played body camera video from the police response. You could see Cash performing CPR on Wilson when officers first arrived, and then the officers took over.
Salinas noted that he saw shell casings on the floor near Wilson’s body. He also said the police department ran information on Strickland, because Cash had mentioned Wilson was with him prior to coming back to Cash’s apartment. Other testifying officers addressed that as well.
APD Officer Nathan Taylor, who also responded that day, addressed the condition Wilson was in when he arrived. When defense attorneys questioned him, they established the important of preserving evidence at crime scenes.
In further testimony, another officer – a 28-year veteran with APD, Officer Lopez – addressed the whereabouts of Wilson’s bike, which Cash indicated was missing, saying it should have either been right inside the door or in the black bike bag outside. Defense attorneys asked her about the importance of not contaminating evidence on the scene.
Throughout first responder testimony, defense attorneys frequently brought up the concept of preserving and/or contaminating evidence, with particular focus on Wilson’s bike.
History of the case
On May 11, 2022, Austin police found Wilson with a gunshot wound at an east Austin home. She ultimately died at the scene. Wilson, originally from Vermont, was in town for a race in Texas.
Police said Armstrong’s Jeep was in the area of the home where authorities found Wilson dead around the time of the shooting. On May 14, surveillance video captured Armstrong at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. On May 17, APD issued a murder warrant for Armstrong.
She eventually made her way to Costa Rica, where U.S. Marshals found and arrested her on June 30, 2022. Police said she cut and dyed her hair and had a bandage on her nose and bruised eyes.
On Oct. 11, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office said Armstrong tried to escape custody after a doctor’s appointment in south Austin. She ran from corrections officers, who caught up to her in about 10 minutes.
There is currently a gag order on the case, so no one involved can speak about it until the trial is over.