A former fugitive has been sentenced to 90 years in jail after murdering her love rival in a jealous rage, before fleeing the US and having plastic surgery to try to evade authorities.
Kaitlin Armstrong, 35, was convicted of shooting dead 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 that evening.
A Texas jury found Armstrong guilty of murder on Thursday and a day later took three hours to decide her sentence. She faced a maximum of 99 years for the crime.
Armstrong left the Austin courtroom immediately after the verdict, as her family could be heard sobbing.
Wilson’s family embraced each other after the sentencing, as her 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 her, pierced their hearts.”
Armstrong used fitness app Strava to track Ms Wilson down to an apartment in Austin – where she shot her 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 pair had been together for about three years before a period of separation – during which Mr Strickland had a brief relationship with Ms Wilson.
Armstrong and Mr Strickland then got back together, but she remained jealous of her rival and had called Ms Wilson warning her to “stay away”.
Two of Armstrong’s friends said she told them she wanted to, or could, kill Ms Wilson, jurors were told.
Ms Wilson had been visiting Texas for a cycling race and was among the favourites to win. She had been staying with a friend when she was killed.
Following the murder, police managed to briefly interview Armstrong. But she then sold her Jeep and fled to Costa Rica using her sister’s passport.
Once abroad, she spent more than $6,000 (£4,850) having surgery to change the appearance of her nose, as well as changing the colour and style of her hair.
But she was eventually arrested at a beachside hostel after 43 days on the run.
Armstrong made a second attempt to evade justice when she tried to escape authorities during a medical appointment outside jail last month. She faces a separate felony escape charge.
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Jurors deliberated for about two hours after two weeks of testimony before delivering their verdict on Thursday.
Earlier, Ms Wilson’s friend Caitlin Cash had told the court she discovered her body and tried to perform CPR.
She told jurors she had texted Ms Wilson’s mother earlier that day with a message: “Your girl is in safe hands here in Austin.”
“I felt a lot of guilt 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 force in her.
“She lived as if every day was her last day. And she lived it so fully. She never wasted any time… It’s as if she knew her life would be short.”
Armstrong, a yoga teacher, did not testify on her own behalf during the trial, which heard her 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 Armstrong owned.
She denied murder and her lawyers claimed she was the victim of a “nightmare” of circumstantial evidence.