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Lawyer seeks to toss evidence in Kaitlin Armstrong homicide case

Austin American-Statesman logo Austin American-Statesman 8/19/2022 Katie Hall, Austin American-Statesman

As police questioned Kaitlin Armstrong while investigating the killing of professional cyclist Moriah "Mo" Wilson, Armstrong asked to leave five times before police granted her request, according to a motion Armstrong's attorney filed Wednesday seeking to suppress evidence in the murder case.

When police interrogated Armstrong on May 12 — before releasing her, due to an Austin Police Department detective's mistaken belief that a misdemeanor warrant was invalid — officers did not read Armstrong her rights before questioning her, the motion says.

As a result, Armstrong's attorney argued, the court should not allow prosecutors to use the evidence because it was gathered improperly. The motion requests an evidentiary hearing.

More:A new name and new life: How Kaitlin Armstrong disappeared — and how she was found

The motion also includes pages of a transcribed police interview with Colin Strickland, Armstrong's longtime boyfriend. Strickland, also a professional cyclist, had a brief relationship with Wilson while he and Armstrong were separated, Strickland told police. Some top sponsors dropped Strickland, whom police have not named as a suspect in the case, after the shooting.

Surveillance footage captured Armstrong's vehicle parked in the area of an Austin residence about 8:30 p.m., about an hour and a half before police found Wilson at the residence shot to death, Armstrong's arrest affidavit says.

A detective asked Strickland whether Armstrong lets anyone borrow her car, and Strickland said her sister used to borrow it occasionally, according to the interview transcript.

Moriah Wilson was found shot to death in an Austin home. © Courtesy photo Moriah Wilson was found shot to death in an Austin home.

Strickland told police that around the time he and Wilson started seeing each other in October, Armstrong made contact with Wilson.

"Kaitlin did call her and pretty much just said, 'Hey, do you know that I pretty much live at Colin's house' — or I don't know exactly what was ... I didn't really dive in," Strickland's interview transcript says. "But I do know she called her, and Mo was like, 'That was really weird.'"

An anonymous caller who phoned police May 14 said that Armstrong told them that when she found out about Strickland's relationship with Wilson, she was so angry that she wanted to kill Wilson.

"Police did not seek to determine the credibility or reliability of the caller," Rick Cofer, Armstrong's attorney, wrote in Wednesday's motion. "The caller’s connection to or involvement in the killing of Ms. Wilson is currently unknown."

More:Kaitlin Armstrong's trial set for October in death of pro cyclist Moriah Wilson

Cofer also argued that "the affidavit completely mischaracterized and falsely stated Mr. Strickland’s words to fabricate a theory of jealousy as a presumed motive for the murder. The affidavit failed to include multiple statements by Mr. Strickland in which he adamantly insisted that Ms. Armstrong could not have murdered Ms. Wilson."

Strickland did tell police on May 17, "Do I think Kaitlin could kill somebody? No, I don't," according to the interview transcript. He added, "She never mentioned wanting to physically hurt Mo. ... I don't believe in any way she's capable of that."

Strickland also told police he has never seen any signs of Armstrong being unstable.

"She's an incredibly kind, caring, sweet person who has helped me take care of my aging mother, she helped her secure like $20,000 in unemployment — by just going — being on the phone for five days," he told police. "Like she is — has only shown shining examples. I mean, in my experience, has only shown absolute above and beyond examples of human compassion and thoughtfulness and care and going far out of her way for ridiculous things, like, ridiculous extents to help other humans."

Strickland purchased firearms that he kept in the home he shared with Armstrong, according to the affidavit.

Strickland told police that, as far as he knew, Armstrong never purchased a firearm of her own, the interview transcript says. Strickland added that Armstrong had previously visited a gun range with a friend.

Armstrong was arrested in Costa Rica after law enforcement officials tracked her there following her release from Austin police custody.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Lawyer seeks to toss evidence in Kaitlin Armstrong homicide case

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