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Kaitlin Armstrong: Detective admits cyclist shooting suspect was allowed to leave country after interrogation

An Austin, Texas detective said in court Wednesday that Kaitlin Armstrong, the woman accused of killing pro cyclist Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson and fleeing to a Costa Rican hideaway, was allowed to leave the state when she did.

Armstrong, 34, is accused of gunning down Wilson, 25, on May 11 in an Austin apartment minutes after the perceived romantic rival returned home from dinner and a swim with Armstrong’s live-in boyfriend, fellow riding pro Colin Strickland, 35.

The pretrial hearing saw two witnesses on the stand – Austin homicide detectives Katy Conner, who conducted the interview of Armstrong, and Richard Spitler, the lead investigator on the case.

However, after her initial questioning on May 12, she was told she was not under arrest and that an unrelated theft warrant was invalid.

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Under questioning from Armstrong’s defense attorney, Rick Cofer, Conner conceded that the 35-year-old was allowed to leave the state, and even the country after her May 12 interview.

Armstrong flew to New York May 14 and on to Costa Rica four days later. Austin detectives obtained a murder warrant for her arrest May 17 – relying on a probable cause statement, which Cofer is also asking the court to throw out based on multiple alleged deficiencies that meant it was written with “reckless disregard for the truth.”

Prosecutors defended the probable cause statement Wednesday and shot down some of his criticisms in court, including claims that the affidavit failed to identify a location of the crime and that time stamps in surveillance video had been unverified.

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Cofer is also asking the court to suppress Conner’s initial interview with Armstrong, arguing that Austin police violated her constitutional rights by continuing to question her after she said she would like to leave.

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Also in court for the first time, a recording was played, in full and on the record, of a call from an anonymous tipster who claimed Armstrong told her that after she learned of a tryst between Wilson and Strickland, she wanted “to kill her, actually kill her.”

Wilson’s friend found her slumped over in a pool of blood in the bathroom of the Austin apartment days before the gravel cycling star was expected to compete in a race in Hico. She had “multiple gunshot wounds.”

Earlier that evening, Wilson had gone swimming with Strickland at the Deep Eddy Pool and then to the Pool Burger, a bar and restaurant across the street. Strickland drove Wilson back to her friend’s place on his motorcycle and had misled Armstrong about his whereabouts throughout the evening, according to the affidavit.

Court filings show Strickland, Armstrong’s boyfriend, repeatedly told detectives he did not believe she would have shot Wilson, and that he did not think she was the jealous or violent type.

“She’s an incredibly kind, caring, sweet person who has helped me take care of my aging mother,” Strickland told Spitler, according to the transcript of his own interview.

Spitler, in his affidavit, wrote that that video showing Armstrong’s Jeep outside and ballistic evidence link her to the crime scene.

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Roughly six weeks after the shooting, Costa Rican authorities arrested Armstrong on Santa Teresa Beach. She had allegedly dyed her hair and assumed a new identity.

In August, Judge Brenda Kennedy approved a gag order on the case, prohibiting all parties from making “any comment regarding, assessing, or characterizing any fact of the case” or the proceedings to the media.

Before the order and in court filings, Cofer challenged the state’s established narrative that his client was a jealous woman going after a “romantic rival,” which he called “misogynistic and fictitious.”

Kennedy did not rule on Cofer’s motions to suppress Wednesday. The parties are due back in court Monday at 10 a.m.

Fox News’ Joy Addison contributed to this report.

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