AUSTIN, Texas - Besides a shared love of staying active, Moriah Wilson and Kaitlin Armstrong had another thing in common: they both knew Colin Strickland.
Ahead of his appearance in the courtroom, Strickland was the center of discussion Friday morning into the afternoon.
The first witness of the morning was a neighbor who captured surveillance video of the back alley behind the home where Wilson was staying. It appeared to show a motorcycle going by at 8:36 p.m.: the time when Wilson unlocked the front door, according to Caitlin Cash’s keypad lock app.
APD Sgt. Jason Ayers described the interview conducted with Strickland on May 12, the day after Wilson was found dead. Body camera footage was played that showed Strickland’s initial reaction to the news of her death as well as questioning by the detective.
"So with the information I had, and knowing they had some kind of romantic involvement, I knew he would have to be ruled out as a suspect," said Sgt. Ayers when asked about his initial impression of Strickland. "I was suspicious of him."
Sgt. Ayers issued and executed a search warrant for Strickland’s home later that day. A crime scene specialist walked the jury through photos taken at the home that Strickland shared with Armstrong.
Photographs of Armstrong's black Jeep were shown along with a photo showing a passport card belonging to Armstrong’s sister, Christine, foreign currency and a Texas license plate.
Around 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Strickland took the witness stand. The State started by questioning him at length about his relationship with Armstrong.
Strickland said he and Armstrong met online in fall 2019. He said the two-and-a-half-year relationship was "tumultuous at times."
Strickland said he and Armstrong had a pattern of a breaking up and getting back together.
He said he did not date other women when there was a break in relationship but did explore the idea, saying he had "a lot of female friends," which Armstrong confronted him about on more than one occasion.
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He said at times the relationship was "extremely comfortable and loving," but he didn’t know if it would work long-term.
Armstrong moved in to his home out of necessity, according to Strickland, when her apartment flooded during the 2021 winter freeze.
Strickland was asked about events that unfolded during an Arkansas trip in October 2021 that resulted in him and Armstrong ending their relationship. Strickland said Armstrong got upset that he went on a mountain bike ride at one point with Wilson and some other professional female cyclists.
"It caused friction because I did not invite the defendant," said Strickland.
Strickland said Armstrong was not involved in cycling when they first met, but he encouraged her to pursue it. He said she was a novice but progressed quickly. When asked if she achieved competitive or professional status as a cyclist, he said he didn’t think she dedicated the time and energy to get to that point.
Though the relationship ended after that trip, the defendant was still living with him.
While they were broken up, Wilson ended up in Austin for a time and Strickland and Wilson had a brief, romantic relationship. Strickland said she eventually went back to California and they remained friends. Strickland and Armstrong ended up getting back together.
Strickland will testify again on Monday.