Kaitlin Armstrong sentenced to 90 years in prison for the murder of Moriah Wilson

"Kaitlin Armstrong. I'm not sure my words can penetrate your heart, but I'm going to try. I hate what you did to my beautiful daughter,' said Wilson's mother on the stand.

Kaitlin Armstrong bulletin image
(Image credit: City of Austin Police Department (APD))

Following its guilty verdict on Thursday, the Texas jury today passed Kaitlin Armstrong a sentence of 90 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for the murder of pro cyclist Anna "Mo" Wilson

Armstrong may be eligible for parole after serving at least half of her sentence or 30 years, whichever comes first.

While it took the jury just 2 hours and 15 minutes to return its verdict of guilt on Thursday, the sentencing deliberation took twice as long. The first-degree murder conviction carries a penalty of anywhere between 5 and 99 years in prison, and required a unanimous jury decision. 

All parties - Armstrong and her team of defense lawyers, the prosecution and Wilson's family - were present for the sentencing, as were reporters and camera crews, streaming the proceedings live on the internet.

After the sentence was passed, Wilson's friend Caitlin Cash, who had found Wilson's unconscious body on the evening of her murder, took the stand to address Armstrong directly.

"Kaitlin, I want you to know that I fought for Mo with everything I had that night. From the moment that I got home and started doing chest compressions, which was the longest 10 minutes of my life," Cash recounted.

"...At no point in my life did I ever think I would have to tell someone's mother that I thought their death was quick. Your actions caused that pain."

"I'm angry at you, at the utter tragic nature. At the senselessness. At not being able to hear Mo's voice again. I feel deep sadness for the road ahead that Mo's family must continue to walk. Deep sadness for Matt for now being an only child. And deep sadness for you and your family..."

"Even after all of this, I feel hope. I hope that I can live a life that she would be proud of and I will carry her with me each day. I choose light, I choose joy, and I choose Love. And Kaitlin, I really hope you can find that, too."

Wilson's mother, Karen Wilson, took the stand after Cash. She, too, expressed anger and encouraged Armstrong to turn to God for healing and forgiveness.

"Kaitlin Armstrong. I'm not sure my words can penetrate your heart, but I'm going to try. I hate what you did to my beautiful daughter. It was very selfish and cowardly.

"You ruined your life, your family's life, our lives, and crushed the lives of many more. When you shot Moriah in the heart, you shot me in my heart. You shot Eric and Matt in the heart..

"I pray for your healing. The only way that can begin is to admit your guilt. Only your actions can seek forgiveness. And not just from us, but most importantly, from your creator."

And, just as she and the rest of the Wilson family had expressed in a statement earlier today, Karen Wilson said that "there is no winner in this story."

"Your actions have caused all sides to suffer. There is a ripple effect of sorrow upon sorrow upon sorrow. Moriah is free of this sorrow, though."

The murder trial started on October 31, 2023 and lasted nearly three weeks with nearly 40 people delivering testimonies. Armstrong was found guilty of first-degree murder and will be serving her 90-year sentence in Texas. 

Mo Wilson Foundation

Moriah Wilson

(Image credit: Mo Wilson Foundation)

Wilson was a 25-year-old up-and-coming talent in the American gravel scene. On May 11, 2022, she was found dead with three gunshot wounds in her friend's home in Austin, Texas. Wilson had traveled to Texas to compete in the Gravel Locos race.

The following day, Red Bull athlete Colin Strickland and his girlfriend, Kaitlin Armstrong, were wanted for questioning.

Strickland had been the last to see Wilson. The pair had gone for a swim at Deep Eddy Municipal Pool, followed by dinner at Pool Burger. Strickland had then given Wilson a ride back to her friend's apartment on his motorcycle, dropping her off around 8:30 p.m.

In talking to the police, Strickland revealed that he and Wilson had a brief romantic relationship in the past, while he and Armstrong had briefly broken up, but that after that weeklong romance, Wilson and Strickland remained a strictly "platonic and professional" relationship. Strickland later reconciled with Armstrong, who was both his romantic and business partner.

When Wilson's friend returned to her home around 10 p.m. that evening, she found Wilson unresponsive and covered in blood on the bathroom floor. Wilson was pronounced dead after the arrival of the police.

During the trial, the prosecution presented numerous pieces of evidence for the jury’s consideration, including surveillance video from a doorbell camera that does not show Armstrong murdering Wilson, but does include audible gunshots at the time of the murder. Wilson’s race bike was recovered behind the house in a black garbage bag which, the prosecution showed, had Armstrong’s DNA on it. 

A neighbor's security camera captured footage of a black Jeep Cherokee pulling up to the apartment. Police matched the SUV to a similar one registered to Strickland and Armstrong's residence. 

The U.S. Marshall's office later reported that Armstrong sold this vehicle to a CarMax dealership on May 13, two days after Wilson's death and one day after being questioned by the Austin police. 

Using her sister's passport, Armstrong then left the city via the Austin airport on May 14, and when a homicide warrant for Armstrong was issued on May 17, she couldn't be located. Armstrong had fled to Costa Rica, where she was detained after a 41-day fugitive hunt.

During the trial's opening statements, Armstrong’s defense attorneys, Geoffrey Puryear, argued that it was the lack of video surveillance footage directly showing Wilson’s murder occurring that absolves Armstrong of guilt. 

“I want to talk to you about what you didn’t hear about,” said Puryear. “Not one witness saw Kaitlin Armstrong allegedly commit this murder. Because there isn’t one.”

He referred to Armstrong as "a woman trapped in a nightmare of circumstantial evidence" and reminded jurors that Armstrong must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

In regards to the 43-day 'man hunt' that eventually located Armstrong in Costa Rica following Wilson's murder, Puryear said Armstrong had been free to leave and referred to her as a woman who loves to travel and is passionate about her yoga practice. It was therefore not out of the ordinary for her to leave on a moment's notice to a foreign country. 

Armstrong did not testify during the trial.

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