AUSTIN (KXAN) — The woman accused of shooting and killing pro-cyclist Moriah Wilson appeared in an Austin, Texas, courtroom for the first time Wednesday after spending 43 days on the run.
In addition to entering a plea of not guilty, Kaitlin Armstrong’s attorneys asked for a speedy trial.
“There is a big picture here. This is a beginning of a process that will play out in court and it should play out in court,” Rick Cofer, Armstrong’s attorney said. Cofer agreed to make a statement after Wednesday’s hearing but would not answer questions, including why Armstrong fled the country.
Cofer said Armstrong’s legal team has some questions themselves, including why Austin police “seemingly ignored a tip about the former boyfriend of Ms. Wilson.” He also said they want to know “who vandalized the home of Kaitlin Armstrong and Colin Strickland the night of Wilson’s death and why?”
KXAN has reached out to the Austin Police Department for their response to statements made by Cofer.
After some back and forth, the judge set the docket call for this case for Oct. 19, with a jury trial the following week.
The state argued it has more than 100 murder cases backlogged because of the COVID-19 pandemic and that an October trial would be difficult.
“I know they haven’t seen the evidence because we don’t have all the evidence to give them,” the state told Judge Brenda Kennedy.
“What you saw in the courtroom today was illuminating. Ms. Armstrong wants her day in court, she wants a trial,” Cofer said. “Cases should not be indicted if prosecutors are not prepared to proceed.”
Armstrong was scheduled for a pretrial hearing in the 403rd District Court for her first-degree murder charge.
Pretrial hearings are typically quick and procedural, but also offer attorneys the opportunity to file motions, ask for specific evidence to be included or excluded and set the stage for trial.
A court also addressed Armstrong’s theft of service charge, a class B misdemeanor, Wednesday after she did not pay for a Botox session in March 2018. Court records show Armstrong had a jail docket call on that case Wednesday morning, prior to her hearing.
Armstrong is being held on a $3.5 million bond in Travis County’s jail after police said she shot and killed Wilson in mid-May and then fled the country using someone else’s passport. She was captured in Costa Rica and extradited back to the United States for trial.
Wilson was visiting Austin for a race. She was staying with a friend who found her shot and bleeding the night of her murder.
“Moriah was a talented, kind and caring young woman. Her life was taken from her before she had the opportunity to achieve everything she dreamed of. Our family, and all those who loved her, will forever miss her,” her family’s statement said in part.
Wilson’s family has started a GoFundMe in her memory, the proceeds of which will go to the Moriah Wilson Foundation, that will help expand “access to recreation, sports and educational programs that promote healthy lifestyles and community engagement for all.”