Murder trial of woman accused of gunning down booming professional cyclistand the flight from the country began Wednesday when Texas prosecutors told jurors they would hear Wilson’s final screams and the gunshots that killed her.
, 35, has pleaded not guilty to murder and faces up to 99 years in prison for the May 2022 killing of Wilson, a competitive gravel and mountain bike racer. Wilson had been shot in the head and chest when she was found at a friend’s house before a race she was among the favorites to win.
“The last thing Mo did on this earth was scream in terror,” Travis County Prosecutor Rickey Jones told jurors in his opening statement.
He said nearby surveillance equipment picked up the screams.
“These screams are followed by ‘Pop! Pop!'” Jones said, clapping his hands for emphasis. “After this, you won’t hear any more screaming.”
Seconds after those shots, Jones said, “Kaitlin Armstrong stood over Mo Wilson and fired a third shot directly into Mo Wilson’s heart.”
At the time, U.S. Marshals said police found Wilson bleeding and unconscious from multiple gunshot wounds. They performed CPR on him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
In a brief opening statement, defense attorney Geoffrey Puryear said Armstrong was caught in a “web of circumstantial evidence.”
No video evidence or witnesses can place Armstrong at the scene of the shooting, Puryear said.
Police said Wilson, a 25-year-old Vermont native, had previously dated Armstrong’s boyfriend, Colin Strickland, who was also a competitive gravel racer, and had gone swimming with him earlier during the day. The trial began three weeks after authorities said.
Prosecutors said they would demonstrate that Armstrong tracked Strickland’s communications with Wilson – as well as Wilson’s whereabouts – in the weeks and days before the shooting. Armstrong was able to track Wilson’s location because Wilson did not have a security feature enabled on a phone app, they said.
Armstrong’s SUV was seen at the apartment where Wilson was staying the night she was killed. Police also said shell casings found at the scene matched a gun found at Armstrong’s home.
Investigators quickly cleared Strickland. Prosecutors said Wednesday that video and phone calls, text messages and location data will confirm he was not near the shooting.
Jones said Armstrong and Strickland were romantic partners starting in 2019 and became business partners in 2021, CBS affiliate KEYE-TV reported.
“Colin will tell you that the relationship resumed, and you will hear that when the relationship ended, they both dated other people,” Jones said.
Strickland did not testify Wednesday, but he is named on the trial’s witness list, KEYE-TV reported.
Early witnesses included Caitlin Cash, the friend who found Wilson covered in blood and out of breath when she returned home from dinner, and several police officers who arrived on the scene. The jury heard a recording of Cash’s emergency call and the sound of him counting through chest compressions on Wilson. They then viewed the body camera footage of the first arriving officer and took over resuscitation efforts.
Wilson’s family left the courtroom for the 911 call and his parents kept their heads down to avoid looking at the body camera footage. Cash was next to them during the footage which showed her pressing on Wilson’s chest when police arrived.
The case made international headlines when Armstrong fled the country after his first encounter with police, leading to a 43-day search. Investigators said she sold her vehicle for $12,000 and fled the country using her sister’s name, email address, credit card and passport.
Federal authorities, where prosecutors said she spent $6,425 on surgery to change her appearance and used multiple aliases while trying to establish herself as a yoga instructor. She had also cut and darkened her hair, and had a bandage over her nose and discoloration under her eyes when she was arrested at a seaside hostel.
Armstrong told police during her arrest that she had been injured in a surfing accident.
“(She had) a bandage on her nose and she had blood in her nostrils,” witness Zachary Paulsen said. Inside edition.
Armstrong’s lawyer suggested the sudden flight out of the country was not an attempt to escape justice.
“She would have no reason to know about an arrest warrant. You will hear that Kaitlin is passionate about traveling and passionate about yoga,” Puryear said.
The case took another turn when authorities said Armstrongby two police officers who escorted her to a medical appointment outside the prison on October 11.
Cellphone video recorded in the parking lot showed Armstrong, handcuffed and in striped prison garb, running from a police officer and trying to scale a fence. Authorities said Armstrong appeared to plan his escape by complaining of an injury to get an outside medical appointment and have the restraints removed from his legs.
She faces an additional charge of escape, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.