AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The murder trial of a woman accused of gunning down rising pro cyclist Anna Moriah Wilson and then fleeing the country until she was tracked down in Costa Rica, begins Wednesday in Texas, three weeks after authorities said she tried to escape from custody.
Kaitlin Armstrong, 35, has been charged with murder and faces up to 99 years in prison in the May 2022 shooting death of Wilson, a competitive gravel and mountain bike racer. Wilson had been shot five times when she was found at a friend’s home before a race she was among the favorites to win.
Police have said the 25-year-old Wilson, a Vermont native who was also known as “Mo,” had previously dated Armstrong’s boyfriend and had gone swimming with him earlier in the day.
Armstrong’s SUV was seen at the home 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.
Armstrong has pleaded not guilty.
The case drew international headlines when Armstrong fled the country after her initial meeting with police, leading to a 43-day search to find her. Investigators said she sold her vehicle for $12,000 and fled the country using someone else’s passport.
Federal authorities tracked Armstrong to Costa Rica, where investigators said she tried to change her appearance and used several aliases while attempting to establish herself as a yoga instructor in that country. She had cut and darkened her hair, and had a bandage on her nose and discoloration under her eyes when arrested at a beachside hostel.
Investigators have not said if they believe Armstrong had some sort of surgery to change her facial features. Armstrong told police when she was arrested that she was injured in a surfing accident.
The trial judge placed a gag order on the case in August 2022, preventing her defense attorneys or prosecutors from commenting.
But her case took another strange turn when authorities said Armstrong tried to escape from two officers who escorted her to a medical appointment outside of the jail on Oct. 11.
Cell phone video captured in the parking lot showed Armstrong, who was wearing striped jail clothes and handcuffed, running from an officer and trying to climb over a fence. Authorities have said Armstrong appeared to plan her escape by complaining of an injury to get the the outside medical appointment and have her leg restraints removed.
She faces an additional felony escape charge punishable by up to 20 years in prison.