AUSTIN (KXAN) — Closing arguments took place Thursday in the murder trial for Kaitlin Armstrong, the woman found guilty of shooting and killing Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson on May 11, 2022.
Testimony began Nov. 1, and the State called witnesses for about eight days. The defense called five witnesses Wednesday and wrapped up its testimony within one day.
During opening statements, prosecutors outlined a timeline of evidence they said placed Armstrong at the scene and established a motive.
As the State’s witnesses testified, prosecutors dissected the relationship between Armstrong, Wilson and Armstrong’s then-boyfriend Colin Strickland. Strickland testified that he and Wilson were briefly romantic in the fall of 2021, during a time when he and Armstrong were not together. He said he and Wilson maintained a friendship and a professional relationship through cycling after he and Armstrong got back together. Records show Strickland and Wilson spent the afternoon together before police say Armstrong shot Wilson at an east Austin apartment.
The Defense said while surveillance cameras captured Armstrong’s Jeep at the murder scene at the time of the shooting, no footage captured Armstrong herself. As attorneys cross-examined the State’s witnesses, they raised questions about the reliability of DNA evidence and digital location data. They also addressed what they suggested were issues or discrepancies in the investigation process and asked questions suggesting the possibility of Strickland’s involvement.
Prosecutor Rickey Jones delivered closing arguments for the State. Within the first three minutes, he once again played the surveillance video where you can hear screams and gunshots. Wilson’s parents and brother were not in the courtroom during that time. They returned shortly after.
Jones addressed questions raised by the Defense during testimony, suggesting the data was not definitive enough to pin the crime on Armstrong.
“No one else in the world fired from [that pistol] and had their DNA at the scene,” Jones said. “No one else in the world left the scene of the murder in Kaitlin Armstrong’s Jeep two minutes after the murder.”
He also added that no one had the feelings Armstrong had toward Wilson because of Wilson’s friendship with Strickland.
Jones also addressed Armstrong’s trip to Costa Rica, saying she went there while the “Wilsons were left to pick up the pieces.”
His arguments lasted 30 minutes.
Both Rick Cofer and Geoffrey Puryear delivered closing arguments for the Denfese.
Cofer said Armstrong “has been stuck in a nightmare of circumstantial evidence. It’s a case based on assumptions, confirmation bias and a lack of direct offense.”
He spent a portion of his arguments talking about Strickland, saying Armstrong’s feelings toward Wilson given her connection to Strickland were normal. He also brought up how Strickland testified that around the time of the murder, Strickland said he didn’t think Armstrong was capable of hurting anyone.
Cofer said when Armstrong went to Costa Rica, she was free to travel just like anyone else and said Armstrong was dealing with a lot of fear surrounding both the murder as well as vandalism that occurred at her and Strickland’s home the night following Wilson’s death.
When Puryear addressed the jury, he reminded them that the burden of proof is on the State.
“But that Kaitlin Armstrong is a murderer? That she committed this crime? Are we certain? Do we know that for sure? Find her not guilty,” was his ending argument.
KXAN will update this story throughout the day.
History of the case
On May 11, 2022, Austin police found Wilson with a gunshot wound at an east Austin home. She ultimately died at the scene. Wilson, originally from Vermont, was in town for a race in Texas.
Police said Armstrong’s Jeep was in the area of the home where authorities found Wilson dead around the time of the shooting. On May 14, surveillance video captured Armstrong at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. On May 17, APD issued a murder warrant for Armstrong.
There is currently a gag order on the case, so no one connected to it can comment on the proceedings until the trial concludes.
More about Wilson
Wilson was in Austin for a gravel race when she was shot and killed. She stayed with her friend Caitlin Cash in the days prior. Cash was the one who found Wilson on the floor with gunshot wounds and called police. She delivered emotional testimony about the incident on the first day of the trial.
Wilson’s brother Matt took the stand first for the State. He said he and his sister were very close, and he discussed her athletic career on the stand, mentioning her experience with collegiate skiing and her quick rise to success in the cycling world.
Strickland also spoke to Wilson’s skill and determination when it came to cycling.
According to the foundation’s website, Wilson wrote in 2015 that she wanted to “be the kind of person that picks other people up when they fall down, who’s there for people when they need support, encouragement, and inspiration.”
The foundation’s goal is to “promote healthy living and community building by supporting organizations dedicated to expanding access to recreation, sports, and educational programs.”