AUSTIN, Texas - A verdict has been reached in the murder trial of Kaitlin Armstrong.
After two hours and 15 minutes of deliberations, the jury found Armstrong guilty of murdering professional cyclist Anna Moriah "Mo" Wilson in an East Austin home in May 2022.
- Kaitlin Armstrong trial: Prosecution’s witness presents timeline of the day Moriah Wilson was killed
- Kaitlin Armstrong trial: Prosecutors showcase DNA evidence on day 8
- Kaitlin Armstrong trial: Tracking digital footprints of key individuals on Day 7
The jury sentenced Armstrong to 90 years in prison for the murder.
THE VERDICT AND PUNISHMENT HEARING
The sentencing phase has now begun to determine how much time Kaitlin Armstrong will spend in prison. It’s been more than 550 days since Wilson was killed and a jury could put Armstrong behind bars for a lot longer.
"Justice for Mo Wilson, the state has met its burden. I'm asking you to find her guilty," Assistant District Attorney Rick Jones said.
The jury did find Armstrong guilty after deliberating for just a little over two hours.
Cameras were then turned off, and the families of Wilson and Armstrong testified during the punishment hearing.
Caitlin Cash, who found Wilson dead in her apartment in May 2022, testified about their time together. She said the morning of the murder, Wilson went on a bike ride, but before she left, Cash took a picture of her and sent it to Wilson’s mother with the caption, "Your girl is in safe hands here in Austin." Cash said she has held onto a lot of guilt for not being able to protect her that night.
Wilson’s mother, father and brother also took the stand and talked about who Wilson was and her goals and dreams. Wilson’s brother, Matt, said she was his best friend.
Armstrong’s family then took the stand, including Armstrong’s best friend and sister, Christie Armstrong. The prosecution pointed out Christie’s best friend is still here, while Matt has to live without his.
Armstrong’s family said she’s a good person and hates that she’s being painted in this light. The prosecution asked Christie, "You do know she killed Anna Moriah Wilson?" Christie replied, "I respect the verdict of the jury."
"As a defense lawyer at the punishment phase, you have to walk that fine line because, during guilt and innocence, you've been saying this whole time my client didn't do this and then now, during the punishment stage, you've got to take a position of do we say okay you got us, she did this but here's why you should give her a smaller jail sentence, or do you still say she's innocent which could make the jury mad," Criminal Defense Attorney not affiliated with the case, Gene Anthes said.
Armstrong decided not to testify. She faces up to 99 years in prison for this murder conviction.
WHAT HAPPENED TO MORIAH WILSON?
25-year-old rising cycling star Anna Moriah Wilson, known as "Mo," was shot and killed at a home on Maple Avenue near East 17th Street the night of May 11, 2022.
The Austin Police Department said, at the time, a woman called 911 and reported she had returned home to find Wilson bleeding and unconscious.
The woman was later identified as Caitlin Cash, whom Wilson had been staying with while preparing for a cycling race in Hico. The recording of her 911 call was played during the trial. Cash also said she noticed the front door was unlocked and that Wilson’s bicycle was missing.
Investigators arrived and found Wilson with multiple gunshot wounds. Despite life-saving measures from both officers and EMS, Wilson died from her injuries and was pronounced dead minutes later.
According to an affidavit filed in May 2022, Wilson had told Cash she was going for an evening swim with fellow cyclist Colin Strickland. The two had gone swimming at Deep Eddy Pool and had dinner before Strickland dropped her off at home.
Surveillance footage from a neighbor later showed an SUV pulling up to the Maple Avenue apartment where Wilson was staying. The SUV resembled one registered to a woman who lived with Strickland, later identified as his girlfriend Kaitlin Armstrong.
Strickland told police at the time Armstrong had returned home in the SUV around 9:20 p.m. that night, and that they had been dating for about three years before briefly ending their relationship for one to two weeks in October 2021.
During that break, Strickland met Wilson and had a romantic relationship with her. Text messages between Wilson and Strickland also showed that Wilson appeared to be under the impression that she was dating Strickland even though he was dating Armstrong.
Strickland admitted to investigators in May 2022 that he had concealed his relationship with Wilson by changing her name on his phone and deleting text messages between them to prevent Armstrong from finding them.
Strickland also told investigators he had purchased two firearms between Dec. 2021 and Jan. 2022, one for himself and one for Armstrong.
Days after Wilson was killed, Austin police identified the suspect in her murder as Armstrong.
She was brought in for questioning on an outstanding unrelated warrant from 2018, but during questioning, detectives discovered it was invalid due to mismatching birthdates and informed her she was free to leave.
Armstrong stayed and spoke with investigators, and was very still and did not move at all, according to court paperwork. She also did not have any explanation for why her SUV was in the area or made any effort to deny what was being said regarding Strickland's interview with police.
Armstrong requested to leave and was let go.
Later, a friend of Wilson's spoke with detectives saying that Wilson and Strickland had been "on again, off again" since fall 2021. She also told investigators that Armstrong had found Wilson's number, contacting her several times before Wilson blocked her number.
Armstrong had also begun following Wilson on Instagram and had even called Wilson to tell her she was with Strickland and that she needed to stay away from him.
An anonymous caller also told investigators she had been with Armstrong in Jan. 2022 when she discovered Strickland was romantically involved with Wilson while still dating her. Armstrong "became furious and was shaking in anger," said the court paperwork. Armstrong told the caller she was so angry she wanted to kill Wilson and said she had either recently purchased a firearm or was going to.
Investigators also spoke with Cash's landlord who told them he had gone to his garage that night and heard what he described as someone running down the stairs from Cash's front door and believed he saw a bicycle traveling away.
Armstrong's 9 mm pistol was also recovered from her and Strickland's home and test fired. The shell casings were compared to and matched those found at the crime scene, according to law enforcement.
Law enforcement was unable to find Armstrong since her brief detainment and release. Strickland also told investigators he had not seen or spoken to Armstrong since May 13, 2022.
The US Marshals initiated a manhunt for Armstrong, following leads she had flown from Austin to Houston, then to New York City.
The search for Armstrong took investigators to a remote campground in upstate New York, where her sister Christie had been staying. A camper told FOX News Digital he had seen Kaitlin there before and that US Marshals and other law enforcement had interviewed Christie.
Investigators later determined that Armstrong was fraudulently using someone else's passport and boarded a flight on May 18, 2022, from Newark International Airport to San Jose, Costa Rica. No flight reservations were found under her name.
Armstrong's black Jeep Grand Cherokee was also found. Investigators say Armstrong sold it the day after she was questioned and released by authorities to a CarMax dealership in South Austin.
Armstrong managed to avoid law enforcement for over a month before she was finally captured on June 29, 2022, at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Costa Rica and was detained for an immigration violation.
Officials said, at the time, Armstrong had cut her hair shoulder-length and dyed it dark brown. She had been wearing a bandage on her nose that she claimed was from a surfboarding accident.
Armstrong reportedly had her sister's passport as well as her own in her possession when she was captured and an alleged receipt for cosmetic surgery claiming she paid $6,350 in cash.
Officials later said Armstrong had moved around towns once she arrived in Costa Rica and used one of three aliases.
According to law enforcement, Armstrong maintained she was "Ari Martin" on the six-hour drive back to San Jose, where she eventually confessed she was Kaitlin Armstrong.
Armstrong was extradited to Austin where she was booked into the Travis County Jail on a $3.5 million bond for first-degree felony murder and $3,500 for theft of service stemming from the 2018 warrant.
She was also initially charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, a federal charge, but that charge was dismissed.
THE ESCAPE ATTEMPT
Armstrong is also facing charges related to an October escape attempt.
A TCSO spokesperson says Armstrong was attending a doctor's appointment with two deputies at around 8:17 a.m. on Oct. 11 when she ran off after leaving the doctor's office. The pursuit lasted about 10 minutes for a distance of about one block.
Armstrong was captured by deputies, restrained, and placed in an APD vehicle.
The spokesperson says Armstrong was taken to a hospital to be checked out before heading back to jail.
On Oct. 12, Armstrong was charged with a new felony for her brief escape. She was charged with escape causing bodily injury.