Kaitlin Armstrong trial: Jurors hear opening statements in cyclist murder case

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(NEW YORK) — Prosecutors told jurors they plan to present audio of the moments professional cyclist Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson was fatally shot during opening statements in the murder trial of Texas yoga teacher Kaitlin Armstrong.

Armstrong, 35, was charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Wilson, 25, who was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds at a friend’s home in Austin on the night of May 11, 2022.

“The last thing Mo did on this earth was scream in terror,” Travis County prosecutor Rick Jones told jurors on Wednesday, saying they plan to play the audio from a nearby surveillance camera that captured the shooting during the trial. “You’ll hear those screams.”

“Those screams are followed by, ‘Pop! Pop!"” Jones continued, adding that Wilson was shot twice in the head, followed by silence, then a third time in the heart.

Jones told jurors prosecutors plan to present video, cellphone, ballistic and DNA evidence that proves Armstrong killed Wilson — including testimony from a DNA expert who will testify that there’s a “very strong likelihood” that Armstrong’s DNA was retrieved from Wilson’s bicycle, which was found outside the friend’s residence.

Defense attorney Geoffrey Puryear said in a brief opening statement that there is no camera footage of Armstrong at the scene and called the state’s forensic science “unreliable.”

He said the state and investigators were “so desperate to keep Kaitlin Armstrong in their crosshairs that they had tunnel vision and jumped to conclusions.”

Armstrong pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

Wilson was once romantically linked to Armstrong’s boyfriend, Colin Strickland, a fellow professional cyclist, and was found shot hours after meeting up with him, police said. Armstrong’s 2012 Jeep Cherokee was captured on surveillance footage from a neighboring home stopping outside the residence the night of the homicide, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Jones said prosecutors plan to present evidence that shows Armstrong had access to her boyfriend’s emails and text messages with Wilson, and that she was able to track Wilson’s location through a fitness app.

A day after being interviewed by police about Wilson’s murder, prosecutors say Armstrong sold her Jeep and later fled to Costa Rica. She was arrested in June 2022 following a 43-day search at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas.

Jones said that days before her arrest, Armstrong spent $6,425 on plastic surgery “to change her appearance.”

Puryear said that Armstrong is “passionate about traveling” and that in the days following the shooting “weird things” were happening at her home that “would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety.”

“That ultimately led to her decision to leave Austin,” he said.

Armstrong is also accused of attempting to escape from custody prior to the start of the trial. She was charged with escape causing bodily injury — a felony — after the Travis County Sheriff’s Office said she briefly evaded two corrections officers while being transported to an off-site medical appointment on Oct. 11.

Armstong has pleaded not guilty to the escape charge, which the judge on Monday agreed to allow the state to use in their case on Wilson’s murder.

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