AUSTIN, Texas - A lot has happened so far in the murder trial of Kaitlin Armstrong. She is accused of killing her perceived romantic rival, pro cyclist Anna Mariah Wilson, in May 2022.
This week we saw prosecutors attempting to paint the picture of a jealous girlfriend and a defense attorney trying to cast doubt. Wilson was visiting when she was shot to death at her friend's home in East Austin. The two women knew each other through Armstrong's on-again, off-again boyfriend, Colin Strickland, who is also a pro cyclist.
The jury has been shown much of the crime scene evidence, including DNA samples, blood spatters and surveillance video. It was an Austin police detective's first homicide case, and the defense has been trying to poke holes in the handling of the case.
One of the most anticipated witnesses, Colin Strickland, testified for two days. He discussed his relationships with both Armstrong and Wilson, and he was one of the last people to see Wilson alive the day she was murdered.
No cameras are allowed in the courtroom, but FOX 7 reporters Meredith Aldis and Carissa Lehmkuhl, who have been in the courtroom every day since the trial began, joined FOX 7 Austin's Rebecca Thomas to unpack what has gone on so far.
REBECCA THOMAS: Carissa, I want to start with you because we've seen Strickland outside of the courtroom agitated, confrontational with the media at times. But what was his behavior inside of the courtroom?
CARISSA LEHMKUHL: You know, inside the courtroom, he also seemed very agitated, very exhausted, upset. A lot of times he was speaking very softly. They told him to speak up multiple times. One of the days he had his hand kind of over the right or the left side of his face, rather, and was kind of resting on it. It almost looked like his eyes were closed. So I don't know if it was just he was physically exhausted, you know, trying to show a little rebellion at having to be there. I will point out that, like you mentioned, he testified for two days. Hours of testimony. And a lot of that was people asking him about very personal things, going through his texts with Wilson and Armstrong, asking him about interactions with women. So I'm sure that contributed as well to the behavior.
REBECCA THOMAS: "I don't recall" seemed to be a recurring phrase that he did say.
CARISSA LEHMKUHL: He did use that a lot. I'm not sure a lot of the time, if he truly didn't recall or if that was just kind of a way to get out of answering the question. IT was hard to say, but we heard that phrase a lot.
REBECCA THOMAS: All right, Meredith, there was a manhunt for Armstrong. She was eventually tracked down to Costa Rica where prosecutors say she was hiding out. What evidence was found there that they say is going to help in this case?
MEREDITH ALDIS: When they found her or arrested her, they said she had a bandage over her nose. She had swollen lips. She had changed the color of her hair to a darker hair color. And then in her belongings was her sister's passport that was stamped on May 18, her passport with no stamp, and then a receipt for cosmetic surgery under a different name. Allison Page. So the prosecution is claiming she went to Costa Rica to hide out, and then she tried to change her appearance once she was there.
REBECCA THOMAS: Yeah, she did look remarkably different once she was captured. Carissa, Strickland was the one who had a past relationship with Wilson, not Armstrong. Detectives even looked into Wilson's ex-boyfriend. So why did police then rule out the men and zero in on Armstrong?
CARISSA LEHMKUHL: Well, that was a question that the defense was asking. They asked that specifically of Detective Spiller. He was the lead investigator on the case. He seemed to jump quickly to Armstrong, and they brought up two other men that were close to Wilson. Alan Lim, I believe, is how you say his name, a close friend. And then her ex-boyfriend, Gunnar Shaw. They asked, well, why didn't you pursue these more as persons of interest or suspects? The detective admitted that he didn't call either of these men until July, which was after he had already issued that arrest warrant for Kaitlin Armstrong called her a suspect in Wilson's murder. He did say both of the men, though, when he talked to them, they did have alibis. They are on the state's witness list. So we're thinking maybe we'll get to hear from them and hear their side in the coming weeks.
REBECCA THOMAS: Meredith, video from before the trial shows Armstrong trying to escape while she had been in custody for months and months. This happened just last month. Has this been brought up in the trial, and could it impact her defense?
MEREDITH ALDIS: It hasn't been brought up yet, but the judge at the very beginning of the trial said that it could be discussed. So we definitely expect to hear about it. I'm sure the prosecution will be thrilled to talk about it. The defense? We'll see what their defense says. But yeah, the attorneys I've spoken to are speculating this trial is more of a punishment case and a win, maybe just beating the state's offer with a lighter sentence. But that attempted escape could be stacked on to this murder case. So if the jury does come back with a guilty verdict and the punishment case begins, attorneys have talked to say there could be fireworks.
REBECCA THOMAS: And again, all of this is just from week one of Armstrong's murder trial. And testimony picks up again on Monday, correct?
CARISSA LEHMKUHL: Monday morning. We'll be there.