A former fugitive has been sentenced to 90 years in prison after murdering her love rival in a jealous rage, before fleeing the United States and undergoing cosmetic surgery in an attempt to evade authorities.
Kaitlin Armstrong, 35, was convicted of take down professional cyclist Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson after the 25-year-old went swimming and had a meal and rum drinks with Armstrong’s boyfriend, Colin Strickland, earlier in the evening.
A Texas jury found Armstrong guilty of murder on Thursday, and a day later it took three hours to decide his sentence. She faced a maximum sentence of 99 years for the crime.
Armstrong left the Austin courtroom immediately after the verdict, as his family could be heard sobbing.
Wilson’s family embraced each other after the sentencing, while his mother Karen Wilson addressed the court.
Looking at Armstrong, she said, “When you shot Moriah in the heart, you shot me in the heart… all the people who loved him pierced their hearts.”
Armstrong used fitness app Strava to track down Ms Wilson at an apartment in Austin – where she shot him twice in the head and once in the heart before fleeing the scene.
At the time of the murder in May 2022, the killer was in a relationship with another professional cyclist, Mr Strickland.
The two were together for around three years before a period of separation – during which Mr Strickland had a brief relationship with Ms Wilson.
Armstrong and Mr Strickland later got back together, but she remained jealous of her rival and called Ms Wilson to warn her to “stay away”.
Two of Armstrong’s friends said she told them she wanted or could kill Ms. Wilson, they told jurors.
Mrs Wilson was visiting Texas for a cycle race and was among the favorites to win. She was staying with a friend when she was killed.
After the murder, police managed to briefly question Armstrong. But then she sold her Jeep and fled to Costa Rica using her sister’s passport.
Once abroad, she spent more than $6,000 (£4,850) to have surgery to change the appearance of her nose and the color and style of her hair.
But she was finally arrested at a seaside hostel after 43 days on the run.
Armstrong made a second attempt to evade justice when she tried to evade authorities during a medical appointment outside the prison last month. She faces another charge of felony escape.
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Jurors deliberated for about two hours after two weeks of testimony before returning their verdict Thursday.
Earlier, Ms Wilson’s friend Caitlin Cash told the court she discovered her body and attempted to perform CPR.
She told jurors she had sent a message to Ms. Wilson’s mother earlier in the day with a message: “Your daughter is in good hands here in Austin.”
“I felt a lot of guilt about not being able to protect her,” Ms Cash said. “I fought for her with everything I had.”
Karen Wilson also told the court: “From the day she was born she had a strength within her.
“She lived as if every day was her last day. And she lived it to the fullest. She never wasted time… It’s as if she knew her life would be short.”
Armstrong, a yoga teacher, did not give evidence on his own behalf at the trial, which heard his Jeep was seen near the apartment at the time of Ms Wilson’s murder.
Bullet casings found near Ms. Wilson’s body also matched a gun belonging to Armstrong.
She denied murder and her lawyers said she was the victim of a “nightmare” of circumstantial evidence.