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Kaitlin Armstrong, 35, tried desperately to avoid accountability for gunning down pro cyclist Anna Moriah Wilson in May 2022. The Austin woman fled to Costa Rica, got a new nose, and changed her hair. All of her efforts were in vain.
American officials caught the fugitive with help from Costa Rican authorities, then dragged her back to face justice, which was meted out this week despite a last-ditch escape effort.
A Texas jury convicted Armstrong Thursday of murder.
What's the background?
Blaze News previously reported that Wilson, a Vermont native and world-class cyclist, was in Austin on May 11, 2022, to compete in a cycling race. Hours before her slaying, she went out for a bike ride and a meal with Colin Strickland, a fellow cyclist and former boyfriend. Strickland also happened to be an on-again, off-again boyfriend of Armstrong's.
Strickland told the Austin-American Statesman that he and the victim "had a brief romantic relationship from late October-early November 2021 that spanned a week or so while Wilson was visiting Austin. At the time, she and I had both recently ended relationships. She returned to her home in California and about a month later, Kaitlin Armstrong and I reconciled and resumed our relationship."
Strickland stressed that his subsequent encounters with Wilson were "platonic and professional."
Surveillance video captured Armstrong's black Jeep Grand Cherokee pull up to the residence where Wilson was staying just moments after Strickland had dropped her off following their purportedly platonic get-together.
CNN indicated that prosecutors detailed during Armstrong's trial how she had access to Strickland's texts and also had used a geolocation app to track Wilson.
In addition to poring over the victim's social media profile in the days leading up to her trigger pull, she also made note of Wilson's address. Authorities later learned that not long before the slaying, Armstrong had acquired a firearm and expressed fury upon learning Strickland had been romantically involved with Wilson.
Police later found the cyclist bleeding out from gunshot wounds. She was pronounced dead at the scene, three days before she was scheduled to compete in the 157-mile Gravel Locos bike race.
Prosecutor Rickey Jones told the jury, "The last thing Mo did on this Earth was scream in terror."
Surveillance footage caught the sound of the victim's screams, "followed by pow! Pow! Two gunshots – one to the front of the head, one to the side of the head that hits the index finger as it passes. You won't hear any more screams after that," said Jones.
Armstrong sold her vehicle two days after Wilson's death for $12,200, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. It appears her sale of the SUV was not just a matter of ditching evidence but getting enough cash to flee the country.
Days after her initial questioning by police, Armstrong flew from Austin to Houston, then took another flight to New York's LaGuardia Airport. Armstrong then flew to San José, Costa Rica, via Newark Liberty International Airport using her sister's name and passport.
According to investigators, Armstrong blew $6,000 on a nose job in Costa Rica, changed her hairstyle and hair color, and altogether attempted to lay low, passing time as a yoga instructor, reported the Associated Press. The killer also used various aliases while moving around the region.
After 43 days on the run, the U.S. Marshals Office of International Operations, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, working with Costa Rican authorities, tracked down the killer to a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas.
Armstrong was arrested on June 29, 2022, then deported on July 2 to the United States, where she pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder.
Despite her arrest, Armstrong's days of running were evidently not over.
On Oct. 11, corrections officers were escorting Armstrong to a doctor appointment when she decided to run once more, reported the Associated Press. Travis County Sheriff spokesman Kristen Dark said the killer made it over a block away before deputies caught up with her.
Armstrong faces a separate felony escape charge for this attempt.
After two hours of deliberation Thursday, a Texas jury determined that Armstrong was guilty of first-degree murder. The yoga teacher, who will be sentenced Friday, faces a maximum sentence of 99 years in prison.
Wilson's family and friends cried and embraced upon learning the verdict.
Wilson's mother, Karen Wilson, told the court her daughter had been destined to "live and move and shine and listen and laugh and be such a unique person," reported ABC News.
The victim's father, Eric Wilson, likened her death to a living nightmare, noting, "I think about it every night. If I do sleep, when I wake up, it's the first thought on my mind. I live with it every day."
Matthew Wilson, the victim's brother, told the court, "My sister had her life taken from her for no reason at all."
"She'll never ride a bike again; she'll never take a 20-minute break from work to bake banana bread in her kitchen; she'll never get married; she'll never buy a home; she'll never have kids; she'll never meet someone that she loves, and ... my parents will never be able to see that happen, to see her enjoy her life," said Matthew Wilson.
Reaction after Kaitlin Armstrong found guilty of murdering Moriah Wilsonyoutu.be
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Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.