Jury selection will today begin in the trial of flighty ‘killer’ yoga teacher Kaitlin Armstrong, nearly 18 months after she went on the run after allegedly shooting her boyfriend’s ex, and three weeks after attempting a daring prison escape.
Armstrong is accused of murdering pro-cyclist Moriah Wilson in Austin in May 2022, allegedly out of jealousy over her romance with Armstrong’s boyfriend Colin Strickland.
In the immediate aftermath of the killing, she managed to evade police to flee to Costa Rica, where she was arrested after 43 days on the run. While a fugitive, she underwent plastic surgery to conceal her identity.
Earlier this month, after running out of reasons to delay the trial following months of setbacks, Armstrong made a last dash for freedom, attempting to run away from deputies who she’d convinced to take her to a doctor’s office in Austin.
Armstrong is accused of murdering pro-cyclist Moriah Wilson in Austin in May 2022, allegedly out of jealousy over her romance with Armstrong’s boyfriend Colin Strickland
Armstrong, shown before she altered her appearance and went on the run. The Texas yoga teacher managed to evade police for months and has pushed her trial back multiple times
Armstrong, left, in the driver’s license photo circulated by the FBI while they were looking for her last year and, right, after undergoing plastic surgery in Costa Rica
Video showed her frantically running towards a fence near the office in her striped prison jumpsuit before being hauled back into custody.
Today, jury selection will begin in Travis County Criminal Court before District Judge Brenda Kennedy. It’s expected to be a fast process, with opening statements already slated for tomorrow.
Her attorney has already alleged in separate legal filings that she has not been treated fairly, claiming evidence of good character has been routinely omitted or ignored by prosecutors.
Armstrong has pleaded not guilty. She is yet to speak publicly about the allegations, and it is not yet clear whether or not she will take the stand at trial.
Perhaps the most significant piece of evidence against her is Ring camera footage from the murder scene that shows a dark colored SUV, similar to the one she was driving at the time, with a bike rack on the trunk. The vehicle was spotted leaving the home around the time Wilson was killed.
Armstrong’s attorney say the video never captured the vehicle’s registration, meaning the car could belong to anyone.
Prosecutors say she planned her most recent attempted escape meticulously, committing herself to ‘vigorous’ exercise in prison for months to make a leg injury not only seem plausible to guards, but to convince them of the need for urgent medical care.
After the attempted escape, a small metal pin was found inside her cell that police now believe was used to undo the handcuffs she had been wearing.
The extraordinary case has been devoured on social media since it began last May.
Murder of Moriah Wilson shocked cycling world
Anna Moriah ‘Mo’ Wilson, 25, was a rising star in the world of professional mountain bike and gravel racing when her life and promising career were cut short.
Wilson lived in San Francisco and was visiting Austin for the 150-mile Gravel Locos race, which she was reportedly favored to win.
On May 11, 2022, she was found dead in a friend’s apartment in Austin, where she had been staying, with two gunshot wounds, to the head and torso. The murder shocked the tight-knit cycling world, where Wilson was well-known and loved.
‘Broken heart and spirit for the loss of this beautiful, grounded young woman who was so full of light and energy,’ fellow cyclist and adventure athlete Rebecca Rusch said in a tweet. ‘She was exceptional in every way.’
Wilson was described by her fellow cyclists as being ‘all light and laughter’. She was a star in the cycling word dubbed ‘the winningest woman in America’
Wilson was killed after a secret date with Armstrong’s boyfriend, Colin Strickland (shown). He went into hiding after her death while Armstrong was on the run
Hours before Wilson’s body was discovered, she had been out to dinner and gone swimming with Strickland, Armstrong’s boyfriend at the time.
Police quickly located and grilled Strickland, who was the last known person to see Wilson alive.
Strickland admitted he’d had a brief prior romance with Wilson during a separation from Armstrong, whom he was then again dating and living with.
He also confessed he’d had the dinner rendezvous with Wilson behind Armstrong’s back, telling her he was running an errand and then claiming his phone died, putting him out of contact.
But Strickland insisted he did not go inside the apartment after dropping Wilson off on May 11, and surveillance video confirmed his story. Cops ruled him out as a suspect.
Within days, investigators began to zero in on Armstrong as a potential suspect, after surveillance video appeared to show the yoga teacher’s 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee outside the apartment where Wilson was shot dead.
After Wilson and Strickland’s secret meet-up, Armstrong’s 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee was spotted driving outside the Austin home of Wilson’s friend, where the cyclist was murdered
Cops theorized that she may have tracked Wilson’s location using the exercise app Strava, on which Wilson had a public profile, and had posted a cycling route that began and ended at the murder scene.
Detectives confronted Armstrong with the video evidence of her vehicle on May 13.
During the interview, Armstrong reportedly admitted it ‘doesn’t look good,’ and a probable cause document for her arrest says she ‘had no explanation as to why it was in the area, and did not make any denials surrounding the statements presented to her.’
But police were still gathering evidence in the case when Armstrong disappeared, before a warrant was issued for her arrest on May 19.
Armstrong goes on the run in Costa Rica
Prosecutors say the day after police questioned her in Wilson’s murder, Armstrong sold her Grand Cherokee at a Texas dealership for $12,200.
A manhunt was launched, but it was too late to stop Armstrong from fleeing the state, traveling first to New York and then on to Costa Rica using her sister’s passport.
After 43 days on the run, she was finally arrested on June 30, 2022, by authorities in Costa Rica, after local police received an anonymous tip that she had flown into a rage months before.
They ran a background check on a name she gave them during questioning, and found no record of her entering the country.
She then confessed that her real name was Armstrong, which led them to the high priority arrest warrant which had been issued for her.
Authorities first tracked Armstrong to New York, where they discovered she’d used her sister’s passport to leave the country
US Marshals launched a massive manhunt for Armstrong after she fled
After 43 days on the run, Armstrong was apprehended in Costa Rica and extradited to the US to face trial
US Marshals say they received dozens of tips which led them to track Armstrong down in Costa Rica.
Authorities said she got a nose job to disguise her identity and dyed her hair brown after fleeing the US. She used her sister’s passport to leave the country and went by several aliases while on the run.
‘She shortened her hair, dyed it dark brown. She was trying to set up another type of lifestyle,’ Deputy U.S. Marshal Brandon Filla said in an appearance on Good Morning America.
‘She thought it was some kind of safe haven for her,’ he said. ‘We knew she had some type of money, she had a check for $12,200. That would be valuable to fund her disappearance.’
Armstrong had moved around Costa Rica visiting yoga studios and hostels while investigators searched for her, Filla told reporters at a news conference.
‘She took a journey,’ Filla said. ‘She was really trying to build something to where she could instruct yoga there in Costa Rica.’
Armstrong was taken back to Texas, where she has remained in Travis County jail on a $3.5 million bond awaiting trial for murder.
Armstrong attempts daring escape from jailers
On October 11, just weeks before her trial date, Armstrong attempted a bold attempt to escape from jail, according to prosecutors, jail officials, and video of the incident.
Two corrections officers had taken Armstrong to a doctor’s appointment after she faked a leg injury, and were escorting her back to a patrol vehicle when she ran, according to an affidavit.
In reality, Armstrong was in top physical shape, after exercising intensely in the months leading up to her escape, jail surveillance video showed.
According to the affidavit, Armstrong used her injury complaint to get a medical waiver for wearing leg shackles, and was able to free her left hand from hand restraints during the pursuit.
A search of her cell revealed a metal piece broken off from a pen, which could have been used to manipulate handcuffs, according to the affidavit.
Investigators say she also wore thermal pants under her striped prison uniform pants, which she removed as she ran in a likely attempt to disguise her appearance.
The affidavit stated in summary: ‘Due to recent activity of exercising vigorously, and complaints of injury to secure offsite medical appointment, and restrictions of leg restraints, Affiant has reason to believe and does believe inmate Armstrong planned to escape from custody.’
Cellphone footage captured the moment the ex-yoga teacher broke free from the two correctional officers.
Accused killer Armstrong was allegedly plotting her great escape from prison and had been exercising in preparation for the breakout
The video shows her brazen attempt at freedom in her eye-catching black and white striped jail-issue jumpsuit while officers chase her up a hill and stumble before Armstrong appeared to jump over a fence.
Police said she bolted into a nearby neighborhood for about 10 minutes before she was captured.
Armstrong ran more than a block into a neighborhood, but she could be seen by deputies the entire time before she was caught. Officials said one of the officers was injured while taking her back into custody.
The escape came well after Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza offered Armstrong a plea deal that would have shaved decades off her sentence – which she rejected.
Armstrong faces up to 99 years in prison if convicted of murder. The escape charge carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years.