Loved ones of slain cyclist Anna Moriah Wilson opened up about their loss in heartbreaking victim impact statements after Kaitlin Armstrong was found guilty of her murder.
Following two-and-a-half weeks of trial at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in Austin, the jury returned a guilty verdict after just two hours of deliberations. Armstrong, 36, fatally shot Wilson on 11 May 2022 after the two women reportedly became involved in a love triangle with Armstrong’s then-boyfriend Colin Strickland.
Wilson’s family embraced each other and became tearful as the verdict was read, according to NewsNation Correspondent Alex Caprariello. Moments later, they delivered heartfelt victim impact statements.
Caitlin Cash was the first to address the court and recounted how she found Wilson’s dead body lying in a pool of blood in her apartment. Ms Cash said just hours before the murder, she had sent a picture of Wilson to the cyclist’s mother with the text, “..your girl is in safe hands here in Austin.”
“Every time I park my car and I walk up my stairs, I have to talk myself into doing it,” Ms Cash, who still lives in the apartment where Wilson was killed, said, per NewsNation. “I have to tell myself that there is nothing that’s scary on the other side of the door. Every time I go to put in a load of laundry, I see the dent that the bullet left when she was shot in the head.”
Ms Cash said now she can’t look at ambulances, stains or hear sirens because she gets triggered and has panic attacks. Ms Cash said she spent 10 minutes giving CPR to Wilson without realising she was dead.
Wilson’s mother Karen Wilson described her as a strong, independent and delicate woman. The day she gave birth to Moriah, Ms Wilson said, she screamed so loud because her daughter had been born wanting to “climb and live” but was trapped in the body of a newborn.
“When you love somebody so much, and if any of you are parents, you understand what that means... when you love someone that much, and it’s taken from you, the depth of the joy of that love is equal to the depth of the pain you have to live with,” Ms Cash said.
She continued: “I just miss her so much and nothing here can bring her back and I knew that coming down here. I would have done anything to stand in the way of that bullet and I wasn’t there to protect her. And she died all alone on the floor of her friend’s house. She did not deserve a death like that.”
Wilson’s brother Matthew Wilson opened up about his struggle with depression, and how his sister had made it her mission to be there for him. Wilson had suggested they’d text each other their three favourite things about their day, every day.
The grieving brother also recounted the moment he learned about his sister’s murder.
“He said, we lost Moriah. And I just freaked out. I ran out of the building and ran up the stairs into the street, punching walls... my mom looks at me crying and I’m crying and she says, it gets worse,” Matthew Wilson said. “I thought maybe something happened to Cash, too. She looks at me and she says, she was murdered.”
The slain cyclist’s father Eric Wilson also said he was very close to her and was very proud of the woman she became.
“It’s so hard to watch [Karen and Matt] go through this,” Mr Wilson said. “She was a beautiful girl, a beautiful young woman. She was just coming into her own really as a cyclist in that last year and I knew that she wanted to be a professional cyclist. And she achieved that dream.”
In a tearful statement after the verdict was returned, Armstrong’s sister Christine Armstrong said her heart was “broken for the Wilson family.”
Christine held an “I love you” sign towards her sister as she approached the stand, which Armstrong reciprocated without smiling.
Armstrong’s defence attorneys had urged the jury to find reasonable doubt in what they called an inadequate and sloppy investigation. They accused investigators of “tunnel vision” in quickly identifying Armstrong as the suspect.
Armstrong’s lawyers noted there were no witnesses to the shooting or video surveillance that captured it. They questioned why police did not strongly consider as suspects Colin Strickland, Armstrong’s boyfriend who was with Wilson the day she died, or two other male acquaintances.
But investigators said they quickly eliminated Strickland and the others and that the evidence pointed solely to Armstrong. Investigators said Armstrong tracked Wilson’s location through a fitness app, and they found deleted digital maps to the garage apartment where she was killed.
Armstrong’s Jeep was seen near near the apartment around the time Wilson was shot and bullet casings found near Wilson’s body matched a gun Armstrong owned. Two of Armstrong’s friends testified that she had previously said she wanted to, or could, kill Wilson.
Jury sentencing deliberations are set to begin on Friday morning,