Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, 35, was sentenced on Friday to 90 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for the murder of Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson.
A jury of her peers in Travis County delivered a guilty verdict on Thursday in the nine-day trial at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in Austin, Texas.
Attorneys presented witnesses in the penalty phase, which began late Thursday afternoon immediately after the jury took less than three hours to deliberate and return a guilty verdict for murder. Armstrong had pled not guilty to first-degree murder charges.
Before abbreviated closing arguments on Friday, jurors heard from Wilson’s parents and brother, and then the father and sister of Armstrong. The jury considered a termed sentence of 5 to 99 years or life in prison with no parole. The verdict was read at approximately 2:30 p.m. CT with confinement for 90 years, with eligibility for parole after half of the sentence is served.
Coverage of the proceedings was permitted in the courtroom for opening statements, closing arguments, and the verdict, which Court TV called the ‘Love Triangle Murder Trial’.
Prosecutor Rickey Jones made the State’s closing statement, and he replayed a recording from a Ring doorbell camera that was part of the evidence presented during the nine-day trial, noting “the last thing Mo Wilson did on this earth, on May 11, 2022, at 9:15 p.m. was scream in terror.”
That recording from the camera, which was positioned outside the residence where Wilson was staying in Austin, was played for jurors and the audio resonated with screams from a female and the sound of two apparent gunshots.
After a pause, an apparent third gunshot was heard on the recording. Prosecutor Rickey Jones said the first two shots struck Wilson in the head and were fatal, while the third bullet was fired into her heart.
Defence attorneys stated that not all evidence was tested for DNA and there was not a thorough investigation about other possible suspects, according to reports in The Austin American-Stateman.
Wilson, a highly-successful gravel racer, had won the opening round of the Life Time Grand Prix’s Sea Otter Classic Fuego MTB 80K in April 2022 and four other early-season gravel races. She was in Austin for the Gravel Locos race, ahead of a defence of her title at Unbound Gravel, and was found fatally shot in a friend’s apartment in Austin, Texas on May 11, 2022.
After a six-day inquiry, police issued an arrest warrant on May 17, 2022 for Armstrong, who fled the country using her sister’s passport, flying to Costa Rica. She was apprehended 43 days later and brought into custody.
Armstrong’s trial began on November 1, 2023, with the State providing eight days of testimony from witnesses including Armstrong’s boyfriend Colin Strickland, who was the last person to see Wilson alive. Wilson and Strickland had a brief romantic relationship during a breakup between Armstrong and Strickland in 2021, and multiple witnesses testified to Armstrong being jealous of Wilson.
Armstrong next faces a separate felony charge of trying to escape from custody, causing bodily injury, for a failed escape last month. If convicted, she faces an additional 20 years in prison.
Wilson’s family issued a statement after the verdict on Thursday, calling the past year and a half a ”sad story”.
“As a family, we believe justice has been served, and of course we have many people to thank, but first I want to thank God for giving us strength, comfort and a measure of peace through this trial process. We know many folks back home and around the country have been praying for us and we appreciate that very much.”
The statement then thanked many individuals, including attorneys and public safety officials, before noting that the outcome had “no winners”.
“Other than the prosecution team, there really are no winners here. This sad story is a perfect example of why integrity and honesty are crucial in our personal relationships, and how dishonesty can often lead to unintended consequences. Selfish manipulation, jealousy and hatred never lead to good outcomes. Violence is never a good way to solve personal issues, in fact, violence doesn’t solve anything but only leads to more suffering.”