AUSTIN (KXAN) — The State continued calling witnesses Thursday for day six of Kaitlin Armstrong’s murder trial.
Police say she shot and killed pro cyclist Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson on May 11, 2022.
State prosecutors have presented a timeline of GPS, DNA, video and electronic evidence they say pins the murder on Armstrong.
While the Defense has not called any of their own witnesses yet, during opening statements, attorneys highlighted the fact that no eyewitnesses saw Armstrong in person at the east Austin apartment where Wilson was killed.
Cameras are not allowed inside the courtroom during testimony. You can follow KXAN’s Brianna Hollis post live updates on the social media platform “X” below.
KAITLIN ARMSTRONG LIVE THREAD: On day 6 of testimony, I'm in court awaiting the State's first witness. Armstrong just walked in. She's looking down at the table she's sitting at. No cameras in court, but I'll update here. @KXAN_News https://t.co/RJ9zIwcZKE— Brianna Hollis (@BriHollisNEWS) November 9, 2023
On Wednesday, Det. Richard Spitler, the lead homicide investigator on this case, said explicitly that police found Armstrong’s DNA on Wilson’s bike, which investigators found in a patch of grass near the murder scene.
He also addressed Armstrong’s email records, which show flight itineraries under her name from Austin to New York and one trip under the name Christie Armstrong. Note: Armstrong’s sister’s name is Christine.
Two of Armstrong’s friends testified, saying they called police after learning of Wilson’s death to give APD information about Armstrong. Both said Armstrong had said – while discussing her relationship with former boyfriend Colin Strickland – that she wanted to kill Wilson. On the stand, those friends said they didn’t think much of it at the time because it’s a phrase people commonly use when emotions are high.
Earlier in the trial, Wilson’s brother Matt took the stand to speak to her personality. Wilson’s friend Caitlin Cash, who called 911 after finding Wilson inside her apartment covered in blood, also testified.
It’s too early to tell how much longer the State will call witnesses, with the witness list being nearly 10 pages long. Everyone on that list could be called, but they more than likely all will not.
Wilson’s friends and family take up about three full rows in the courtroom. Her family has set up a foundation in her honor with the goal of using sports, recreation and the outdoors to build a community.
Armstrong’s first interview with homicide detective played at trial
During Homicide Detective Katy Conner’s testimony, the State played the video of her initial interview with Armstrong.
Police brought her in on a “minor” misdemeanor warrant for theft of service, and Conner explained to Armstrong she also wanted to speak with her about Wilson’s death because Strickland had brought Armstrong’s name up. In the video, another member of the police department appears to tell Conner that the warrant has a different date of birth, so it’s not for Armstrong.
At that point, Conner told Armstrong she was free to go if she wished to. Armstrong indicated she did wish to leave but did not get up. Conner continued to tell Armstrong that Strickland had told police Armstrong had issues with Wilson, and Armstrong stated again that she wanted to leave.
That’s when Conner, in the video, told Armstrong again she’s free to go, but if she does – the police department only has Strickland’s side.
“Your vehicle was seen next to her house, and we need to talk about that OK?” Conner said in the interview. “I want to be able to explain that there’s a logical explanation to this. But I don’t know because I don’t have her story.”
After that, Armstrong asked again to leave, and Conner makes arrangements to give Armstrong a ride home.
Defense attorneys asked Conner several questions about the warrant confusion and whether she properly handled the interview after it was determined Armstrong was no longer under arrest.
Conner asserted on the stand that Miranda rights weren’t needed because Armstrong was not under arrest and that she would have escorted Armstrong out and let her leave if she definitively said right away she wanted an attorney. Conner said when Armstrong would mention an attorney, she was asking the detective about her rights rather than asserting her rights.
U.S. Marshal’s Office maps out finding Armstrong in Costa Rica
Deputy Emir Perez with the U.S. Marshals Office testified about his assistance with detaining Armstrong in Costa Rica in June of 2022.
He said once on the ground in Costa Rica, local authorities were the lead, but he was there to help, and together they conducted “old fashioned police work.”
Perez said law enforcement’s focus was on Santa Teresa, a small beach town with only one paved road that was very popular with tourists. He and other officers interviewed people at the local restaurants, shops, hotels and hostels asking if anyone had seen Armstrong.
Through that, they discovered Armstrong was staying at a hostel, so Perez went to that hostel. When he got there, he said he saw a man and a woman sitting outside on the patio and went up to them. He said he thought it could be Armstrong, but couldn’t tell initially – particularly because the woman’s hair was darker.
Perez said he was dressed as a tourist and spoke to the man and woman in Spanish asking questions about the price and quality of the hostel. The woman he thought could be Armstrong used Google Translate on her phone to communicate with him, he said. Perez said that allowed him to get physically closer to Armstrong and he identified the woman as Armstrong because of her eyes. She had a bandage on her nose.
Perez coordinated with local law enforcement to arrest Armstrong, who ultimately got detained by immigration for illegally entering Costa Rica by means of not using her own passport. Later, police found Armstrong’s sister’s passport in her possession.
On the flight back to Texas, Perez said Armstrong was quiet-but-polite and didn’t cause any problems on the trip. He also said Armstrong did provide her real name to authorities in Costa Rica, even though she initially hesitated.