Kaitlin Armstrong, the Texas woman accused of killing a top cyclist in a fit of jealous rage and then fleeing to Costa Rica, pleaded not guilty in court on Wednesday.
The hearing began following a delay just after noon CT, and she entered the same plea on both counts of murder and theft of services, according to FOX 7 Austin, which had a reporter present in the courtroom.
Armstrong, 34, is being held in Travis County Jail on $3.5 million bond on the murder and theft charges, for which she was arraigned Wednesday.
She has been charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death of Anna Moriah Wilson, who had been staying with a friend in Austin ahead of a bike race in Hico, loved ones said.
Armstrong, a yoga instructor and a licensed realtor who was raised in Livonia, Michigan, was allegedly using the alias "Ari" while she was hiding out in a Costa Rica beach town before Costa Rica police arrested her over an immigration violation on June 29. She'd been on the lam for 43 days after Austin police obtained a murder warrant.
Rick Cofer, Armstrong's attorney, said after the hearing that police have put out a public narrative in the case, but there are other sides to the story not yet told.
Armstrong allegedly gunned down 25-year-old Wilson, who went by "Mo," on the night of May 11, 2022, in Austin, Texas. Wilson was fatally shot multiple times in the bathroom of her friend’s home, Austin Police Department officials have said. Her friend made the horrifying discovery and called 911 shortly before 10 p.m.
Wilson was found "lying on the bathroom floor covered in blood," the police affidavit states. She was pronounced dead just 14 minutes later.
According to law enforcement documents, police discovered Wilson with two bullet wounds to her head and another in her chest that investigators believe she incurred "after she was already laying supine on the floor."
Police investigators recovered chipped tile and a bullet underneath where she was lying. Wilson also suffered cuts under her chin and to her right hand, the documents state.
Earlier in the night, Wilson had been out with Armstrong’s longtime boyfriend, Colin Strickland. Strickland, who is also a pro cyclist, and Wilson went swimming at Deep Eddy pool in Austin before eating at the Pool Burger bar and restaurant across the street, officials have said. Strickland dropped Wilson at her friend’s home, where she was staying at the time, and then left.
Investigators have said evidence indicates Armstrong followed the pair for at least a portion of their outing. Home surveillance footage from a neighboring residence shows Armstrong’s black Jeep Grand Cherokee – which she later sold – driving past the home just moments after Strickland had left.
Armstrong’s Jeep then "appears to stop next to Wilson’s friend’s residence" just minutes after Strickland had left Wilson, officials said.
"Video surveillance shows Strickland leaving the area after dropping off Wilson and shows Armstrong's vehicle driving to the East Austin residence where Wilson was staying," the warrant states.
Investigators executed a search warrant at Armstrong’s home, which she shares with Strickland, and ultimately confirmed that one of the guns found in Armstrong’s home was the murder weapon: a Sig-Sauer P365 9mm, APD Homicide Det. Richard Spitler previously said.
Days before the murder warrant was issued, police had interviewed Strickland and located Armstrong, who was arrested for a misdemeanor warrant out of Travis County from 2018. The warrant stemmed from allegations she skipped out on a $650 Botox bill.
The warrant gave police a reason to detain Armstrong, and they questioned her in connection with Wilson's death. Armstrong allegedly remained "quiet and completely still" during the majority of detectives' interview with her.
"Armstrong was questioned about her vehicle being in the area as pictured on the Ring camera. However, she would not confirm or deny being in the area of the murder and quickly terminated the interview," Spitler said.
But she "was then mistakenly released from custody on the misdemeanor warrant" because her date of birth in the department’s report management system did not match the date of birth on the warrant, he said.
The affidavit adds: "When Armstrong was confronted with video evidence of her vehicle, 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 when a detective confronted her about how Wilson was with Strickland, she "turned her head and rolled her eyes in an angry manner" before she stated that she "didn’t have any idea that he saw or even went out with this girl… as of recently," the affidavit further states.
When one detective suggested that Armstrong might be "upset and just in the area," Armstrong allegedly "began to nod in agreement."
Strickland and Wilson dated for "one to two weeks" in October 2021, when he and Armstrong were on a break, he told police. He said his relationship with Wilson became Platonic when he resumed his relationship with Armstrong.
Strickland, who is also a professional cyclist, allegedly told police that he deleted text messages and went as far as hiding Wilson’s name in his phone to prevent Armstrong from blocking "Wilson’s number in Strickland’s phone."
"Strickland advised that while he and Wilson were dating, Armstrong called Wilson on the phone, telling Wilson she was the one dating Strickland," the affidavit states.
The document later describes how one anonymous tipster said Armstrong "told Wilson she was with Strickland and needed to stay away from him."
A different anonymous caller allegedly told APD she was with Armstrong in January 2022, when Armstrong "had just discovered Strickland was having a romantic relationship with Wilson even though Armstrong and Strickland were still dating."
"The caller advised Armstrong became so furious and was shaking in anger," the affidavit continues. "Armstrong told the caller Armstrong was so angry Armstrong wanted to kill Wilson. Armstrong then proceeded to tell the caller Armstrong had either recently purchased a firearm or was going to."
Strickland allegedly told authorities he purchased the alleged murder weapon for Armstrong.
On May 14, three days before she became wanted for murder, Armstrong traveled from Austin International Bergstrom Airport to New York’s LaGuardia Airport. She allegedly boarded Flight #WN2262 from AIBA to Houston Hobby Airport at 12:30 p.m. local time, and then took a connecting flight via Southwest Airlines Flight #WN30 to New York.
Investigators later revealed that Armstrong "was dropped off at the Newark Liberty International Airport May 18, a day after Austin police obtained a warrant for her arrest." But her name was not linked to any of the outbound flights from Newark airport at the time, Marshals said.
Last month, Fox News Digital spoke with a camper at a secluded, sweeping property known as "Camp Haven" or "Haven for Humanity" in Livingston Manor, New York. The camper confirmed not only that Armstrong’s sister, Christine, lived there, but also that agents with the Marshals Service had been there to speak with the sister.
Armstrong sold her black Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was spotted near the crime scene around the time of Wilson's shooting death, on May 13 – one day after she was questioned and released by Texas authorities. She allegedly sold the SUV through a CarMax dealership in Austin and made off with a check for $12,200.
Police warrants further reveal that Armstrong had practiced shooting with her sister and had access to at least $450,000.
In addition to the murder count for which she was originally wanted, Armstrong was charged federally on May 25 with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, but the charge was ultimately dropped.