Kaitlin Armstrong was sentenced by a jury Friday to 90 years in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old professional cyclist Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson in Texas in May 2022.
Armstrong’s case drew national attention after she traveled to Costa Rica and went missing for more than 40 days following the murder. Armstrong’s then-boyfriend, Colin Strickland, is another cyclist and the last person seen with Wilson before her death.
The jury has also ordered Armstrong to pay a $10,000 fine.
Prosecutor Guillermo Gonzalez asked jurors to “begin your calculation at a minimum of 40 years in prison” as a sentence and “go forward from there.”
Armstrong – who turns 36 years old in less than a week – faced the possibility of a life sentence, or up to 99 years in prison. Her defense attorney, Rick Cofer, did not suggest a specific prison term during his comments to the jury.
Strickland testified during the trial that he had a brief romantic relationship with Wilson in the fall of 2021 while his relationship with Armstrong was on a break. The state sought to paint Armstrong as a jealous girlfriend who had access to Strickland’s text communications and used a geolocation app to track Wilson.
The defense has maintained that police neglected to test all evidence and consider other suspects.
In 2022, Armstrong pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge in Wilson’s killing.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Rickey Jones urged jurors to dismiss defense theories about another killer. Armstrong was on the run because she is guilty of “shooting Mo Wilson in the heart and the head and taking away this prodigy at the age of 25.”
“Nineteen days before this trial, she’s running from you,” Jones said of the defendant. “She didn’t want to face you… Don’t let her run like she tried to do 19 days before this trial.”
Gonzalez said in closing: “No one saw who murdered Moriah Wilson, but the evidence all points in just one direction: the defendant.”
Cofer countered in closing that his client “has been trapped in a nightmare of circumstantial evidence.”
“How do you go about disproving a negative?” he asked.
The defense has pointed to unknown DNA profile recovered from the scene of the crime to suggest that Armstrong was not the killer. And Cofer asserted in closing that the Austin Police Department had told his client, “Free to go, ma’am.”
“Police think Kaitlin committed this crime. They don’t know. She fits their story,” Cofer told jurors. “She fits the story they’ve created. A spurned, jealous lover. That story is so easy to tell because it ties into a framework of patriarchy and misogyny rooted in American culture.”
Cyclist found dead days before race
Wilson, 25, was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds at the home of a friend in Austin, authorities said, three days before she was set to compete in the Gravel Locos bike race, a 157-mile race in Texas.
She had told her friend she was going for an afternoon swim with Strickland, who later told police he and Wilson swam and ate dinner, and he dropped her off at a friend’s home, according to an arrest affidavit in Travis County District Court.
Police issued a homicide warrant on May 17, 2022, for Armstrong. The affidavit for her arrest pointed in part to video surveillance obtained by investigators showing a vehicle similar to hers near the home shortly before Wilson’s body was found.
Armstrong was captured in Costa Rica on June 29, 2022, and was deported to the United States on July 2 to face a murder charge. She faces a separate federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
A spokesperson for the US Marshals Service said authorities believed Armstrong used the passport of a close associate to go to Costa Rica and while there used several aliases while moving several times to a new town, CNN previously reported.
Armstrong was detained for violating Costa Rican law for fraudulently using a passport, according to Marshals spokesperson Brandon Filla.
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