Kaitlin Armstrong murder trial: A look ahead

Kaitlin Armstrong is charged with killing pro cyclist and romantic rival Moriah Wilson in an East Austin home in May 2022; her highly anticipated murder trial is set to begin on Monday.

FOX 7 Austin's John Krinjak spoke with Austin-based defense attorney Rick Flores to look ahead to the trial.

JOHN KRINJAK: So this is obviously such a high-profile case. It was a murder that made national attention when it happened. We have a young pro cyclist who was the victim. How could that all play into this case when things get underway on Monday?

RICK FLORES: Sure. So on Monday, jury selection will begin, and it'll be interesting to see how both sides, the state and the defense, try to find 12 impartial jurors. Certainly a lot of people have heard about this. As you mentioned, it made national news. And there's a lot of people who know a lot of the details, too many of the details, to be fair and impartial. So it'll be interesting to see when the trial starts on Monday, and they're doing jury selection, how to weed those people out. Tuesday will be the opening statements, and that's what I'm excited to see, because that's really kind of a preview of what both sides are going to be presenting to the jury.

JOHN KRINJAK: And one things that's obviously on our minds here in Austin is that fact that Armstrong tried to escape from authorities. She was on her way to a doctor's appointment, and she didn't make it very far, but it was an escape attempt. How to you think that could play into what we see unfold? Obviously we're going to see new charges added, but what else could we see?

RICK FLORES: Right. So there's already been new charges added. I think it's going to be an issue at this trial for the murder case. The prosecution is going to try to get that in. And the defense is, of course, going to try to keep that out. I think the defense would probably argue that it's too remote from the time of the actual murder, and I think that the prosecution is going to say that it's very relevant, and that it's a sign of her consciousness of guilt.

JOHN KRINJAK: And not just this escape attempt. Obviously, we're talking about Costa Rica. She was arrested in Costa Rica back in June of 2022, which was closer in time to the murder. Do you think the prosecution will try to use that and sort of establish a pattern here, sort of paint her as guilty?

RICK FLORES: That will, without a doubt, be a part of the trial. The prosecution is going to, of course, want the jury to hear all of those details. Like you said, the fact that she escaped out of Texas and then to Costa Rica, she sold her Jeep, she even had plastic surgery, cut her hair, dyed her hair. I mean, all of those things are going to be very difficult for her defense team to explain why she did that. I don't know if anybody's going to be able to get around the idea that those aren't exactly the actions of an innocent person.


JOHN KRINJAK: And that goes to my next question. As a defense attorney, what would be your strategy? How would you come at this case strategically?

RICK FLORES: You know, a lot of people often forget that the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and that the defense doesn't really have to present any sort of theory or evidence. If they wanted to, they could just sit there and let the prosecution present all of the evidence. But in a case like this, the jury is certainly going to be wanting an explanation of why those things happened. And so it'll be interesting to see what sort of theory the defense puts forward. And I don't know if that's going to be that she didn't do it, that they got the wrong person, or that there was some sort of an argument. Whenever there's a murder involved, there's always the possibility of a self-defense claim. And I don't think we've really been presented with any of that. I haven't read anything like that, or heard anything around the courthouse. So it'll be interesting to see what the actual defensive theory is.

JOHN KRINJAK: Obviously, the defense could have a challenging case here, but do you think one of their advantages could be the fact that there's not really a lot of direct evidence here? It's more circumstantial.

RICK FLORES: Right. And whenever you're dealing with a jury trial, you're dealing with people who don't really know a lot about the legal system and want just common sense explanations. And oftentimes when there's no direct evidence, there's no eyewitness, there's no video of the murder. Sometimes that's enough for a jury to hang their hat on and acquit somebody.

The Kaitlyn Armstrong murder trial begins on Monday, Oct. 30. Keep up with our coverage of the trial by tuning into FOX 7 Austin News and online at FOX7Austin.com.