TX - Moriah Wilson, Cyclist Fatally Shot Before Race, Austin, #5

SteveP

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FOX 7 Austin
@fox7austin

Texas murder suspect #KaitlinArmstrong is now facing a charge in #NewJersey for using someone else's passport to leave the country. She is now currently facing charges in two different states, and one federal charge. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3NWEV5E

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4:30 PM · Jul 9, 2022·

Nice to see them piling up. Maybe if her attorney gets her off on one charge, something else will stick, although the murder charge is certainly the most important one.
 

RickshawFan

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Welcome to Websleuths! I’m pretty sure this is currently a Texas state case. If she is convicted of first-degree murder, she’d maybe go to one of these.

TEXAS WOMEN'S PRISON & STATE JAIL UNITS
  • BRIDGEPORT (FEMALE) PRISON UNIT. 222 Lake Road, Bridgeport, Texas 76426.
  • HENLEY STATE JAIL UNIT. 7581 Hwy 321, Dayton, Texas 77535.
  • HILLTOP PRISON UNIT. 1500 State School Road, Gatesville, Texas 76598.
  • HOBBY PRISON UNIT. 742 FM 712, Marlin, Texas 76661.
  • LOCKHART PRISON UNIT.
I always get a sick pleasure from reading prison rules.

 
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Sundog

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We know that Texas is the state where murder trials heard in Texas District Courts proceed in two phases: guilt/innocense phase, and the punishment phase.

I think this is also why we hear that the DA can still upgrade the defendant's charges to Capital murder.
<snipped for focus>

If KA is found guilty of murder in the first phase of the trial, then during the penalty phase of the trial the prosecution will argue for the best they can get with a 5-99 year sentence, and the defense will probably argue for a sudden passion defense, lowering the sentence to 20 years maximum.

I doubt the prosecution can upgrade the charges in the penalty phase of the trial, the penalty phase is about sentencing. JMO.
 

Charlot123

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MURDER is a first degree offense, but does not carry death or LWOP as options. She has not been charged or indicted for CAPITAL MURDER, which is the ONLY murder charge that carries that punishment, This link shows that there are four levels of homicide in Texas, and none are listed as First Degree Murder. What is being reported as her first degree murder charge, or murder in the first degree is legally defined as MURDER. Nowhere has anyone reported that she is being charged with Capital Murder, nor has anyone reported she is facing death or LWOP if convicted.

What are the 4 categories of homicide in Texas?​

According to Texas Penal Code 19.01, homicide is a felony crime that is defined as “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing the death of an individual.” Criminal homicide is a broad term used to define four different subsets: murder, capital murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide. The differences between each classification depend on the nature and intention of the accused crime.

  • Murder (Texas Penal Code 19.02): Contrary to common phrasing, murder and homicide are not legally defined as the same crime. Murder is committed when a person “intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another person.” You can also be charged with murder if you caused the death of another person during an attempt to inflict serious bodily injury or commit another felony.
  • Captial murder (Texas Penal Code 19.03): What is capital murder? Homicide is charged as capital murder if the victim was a law officer on duty, under the age of 10, or if the death occurred during the commission or attempted commission of kidnapping, robbery, burglary, arson, aggravated sexual assault, retaliation, obstruction or during a terrorist threat. You can also be charged with capital murder if more than one person was killed during an attempt to commit another felony.
  • Manslaughter (Texas Penal Code 19.04): The difference between murder and manslaughter is that manslaughter occurs when you cause the death of an individual as a result of your reckless disregard for human life. Manslaughter can be separated into two classifications: involuntary manslaughter (negligently causing the death of another person without intent to kill) and voluntary manslaughter (intentionally killing another person in the heat of the moment).
  • Criminally negligent homicide (Texas Penal Code 19.05): A person is charged with criminally negligent homicide if they cause the death of an individual by criminal negligence (i.e. reckless driving).

  • The Different Degrees of Murder in Texas | Thiessen Law Firm

Thank you very much for this clear explanation.

If it is proven that KA stole MW’s bike, isn’t it also equal to burglary?

What would be retaliation in this context? “Revenge for having had a relationship with one’s bf?”
 

SteveP

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Thank you very much for this clear explanation.

If it is proven that KA stole MW’s bike, isn’t it also equal to burglary?

What would be retaliation in this context? “Revenge for having had a relationship with one’s bf?”
Only my opinion, but I do not think the prosecution will try to get her MURDER charge elevated to CAPITAL MURDER. Not even sure they could meet the standard to try. I think it would be very difficult to prove any circumstance that could elevate the charge to that level. It would be hard to prove KA stole MW's bike when it was found 60 feet from her steps. Likewise, retaliation seems more likely to be argued as a motive to get the regular charge of MURDER successfully prosecuted. To be convicted of capital murder, it would have to be proven that KA INTENDED to kill her in retaliation when she went to MW's house. If her attorney can successfully convince one juror that she didn't intend to kill, but only went there to talk to MW, and it escalated to argument or whatever, had no intention of harming anyone, you have a hung jury on a capital murder charge.

Clearly, opinions vary, and mine is no more valuable than anyone else's. I personally think she should never see the light of day again as a free woman, but just because we may personally feel like she should get the death penalty, or LWOP, no charge is worth a nickel if you cannot get a conviction. I believe the state will stick with the MURDER charge they have, and push to get the higher end of the 5-99 year punishment, if she is convicted. Conversely, if she is convicted of MURDER, her attorney will likely fight very hard, during the penalty phase, to get her a minimal sentence, citing crime of sudden passion. JMO
 
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Howl

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Would part of the calculus be dependent on how soon KA shot Wilson after KA arrived at the house? If KA arrived with a loaded gun, got in the door and began firing, that's would certainly indicate premeditation -- arriving with a specific intent to murder Mo.

And any way you look at it, KA going to Mo Wilson's house with a loaded gun...shooting her and leaving her gravely wounded for hours, when immediate medical help may have saved her life...pretty damned cold.
 

SteveP

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Would part of the calculus be dependent on how soon KA shot Wilson after KA arrived at the house? If KA arrived with a loaded gun, got in the door and began firing, that's would certainly indicate premeditation -- arriving with a specific intent to murder Mo.

And any way you look at it, KA going to Mo Wilson's house with a loaded gun...shooting her and leaving her gravely wounded for hours, when immediate medical help may have saved her life...pretty damned cold.

Okay, I just researched, and THIS is why "obstruction or retaliation' cannot be used as a basis for elevating this case to CAPITAL MURDER status.

The Obstruction or Retaliation crime in the state of Texas makes it illegal to threaten to harm a public servant (like a judge or the police) in retaliation. The law specifically prohibits posting contact information of public servants in addition to making threats. Learn more detailed information about the Obstruction or Retaliation offense below.

This case is not going to be elevated to Capital Murder. It just does not meet the criteria. JMO

 

steeltowngirl

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Interesting opinion piece / write-up, as it provides examples of sudden passion:

Can you go to jail for the crime of passion? The quick answer is yes. Seeking to invoke “sudden passion” concerns the level of punishment for a crime, not guilt or innocence. If the jury or judge is considering whether “sudden passion” applies to the case, it is a consideration not of acquittal, but of a lesser sentence. Premeditation can also throw out “sudden passion” as a legal defense, even if the crime was indeed committed in the heat of passion.

For example, imagine a man goes away for a business retreat, suspecting that his partner might be having an affair in their home during his time away. He is fully aware that he might catch his partner cheating if he were to come home early, so he plans to do just that in hopes of catching her in the act. He brings a weapon, hides his car up the block, enters the house quietly, tiptoes up the stairs, and catches his spouse in bed with someone else. In this scenario, no matter the amount of passion involved, the premeditation of inflicting some sort of harm, whether it be assault or murder, would make it difficult to gain consideration for “sudden passion”.

With a few adjustments, this same scenario could be a convincing argument for “sudden passion”. Adequate cause certainly exists, but premeditation is what throws this out as a legal defense. The argument for “sudden passion” would be much stronger if the car was not hidden and the weapon had lain dormant in a dresser drawer instead of wrapped in a willing and waiting hand inside of a coat pocket.

 

Mrspratcher

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From the article:

[…]

Now her attorneys are suggesting that police lied in the probable cause affidavit required for her arrest. On Wednesday, August 17, they filed motions to suppress evidence and to call for what’s known as a Franks hearing, a court proceeding wherein Armstrong’s council will seek to “traverse” the warrant by proving to a judge that the information establishing probable cause is false. In this case, the judge is Brenda Kennedy, who’s set to retire in December.

<modsnip for 10% copyright, more at link>
 
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Mrspratcher

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Today’s docket entries:

08/17/2022
MTN:MOTION

MOTION FOR EXAMINATION AND INSPECTION OF EVIDENCE AND TEST FIRE

08/17/2022

MTN:TO SUPPRESS

08/17/2022
MTN:MOTION

ARMSTRONG'S FRANKS CHALLENGE, MOTION FOR FRANKS HEARING, AND MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE
 

BUF

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From the article:

[…]

Now her attorneys are suggesting that police lied in the probable cause affidavit required for her arrest. On Wednesday, August 17, they filed motions to suppress evidence and to call for what’s known as a Franks hearing, a court proceeding wherein Armstrong’s council will seek to “traverse” the warrant by proving to a judge that the information establishing probable cause is false. In this case, the judge is Brenda Kennedy, who’s set to retire in December.

The Chronicle has yet to receive copies of the newly filed motions, but one to examine and inspect evidence related to a “test fire” suggests that attorneys believe gun evidence is misleading. Monday, Cofer told the Chronicle he planned to file motions that would “address serious issues in the case against Kait.”

As for Armstrong’s trip to Costa Rica, Cofer said she was in a state of shock. “Imagine waking up on May 13th and you’re Kait Armstrong. Your partner and lover of three and a half years had just spent nine hours at the [police] headquarters being interrogated for murder.”

On May 12, the day Strickland was interrogated, Armstrong was also arrested on a 2018 warrant for allegedly failing to pay for Botox services. Cofer said police took Armstrong from her home in handcuffs in front of her neighbors, interrogated her briefly, but then told her that bringing her in was “all a mistake.” Per court documents, on May 12 police confronted her with a video that showed a black SUV (like hers) pulling up to the home where Wilson was killed, but had to release Armstrong when her birthdate on the 2018 warrant and in APD’s system did not match up.

After this interrogation ordeal, as Cofer tells it, Armstrong awoke the morning of May 13 to find vandalism at her home, which was very disorienting. Cofer asks the public to imagine living through these two days, “Not knowing you were safe; not knowing what role, if any, the people in your life may have played in the death of Mo Wilson. Imagine the fear and terror, but most importantly the shock, that Kait Armstrong had to feel. It makes a lot of sense that she would want to be with family [in New York].”

[…]

An expat surfer in Costa Rica, Teal Akerson, told the Statesman he went on several dates with Armstrong and that she was going by the name “Ari.” He also said she’d described going through a “traumatizing breakup” recently. The Chronicle reached Akerson, who offered an interview for $5,000, which we declined.
And it begins…so “Kait” was in a state of shock, but had the wear with all to sell her car, borrow (??) someone’s passport, hop a plan to Costa Rica, get a nose job, etc., etc.

Looks like Teal is charging $5K an interview…how many has he done now?
 

Mrspratcher

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And it begins…so “Kait” was in a state of shock, but had the wear with all to sell her car, borrow (??) someone’s passport, hop a plan to Costa Rica, get a nose job, etc., etc.

Looks like Teal is charging $5K an interview…how many has he done now?
Poor “Kait”. She also reportedly needed to use a bunch of different aliases and dye + cut her hair!
 

Seattle1

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As for Armstrong’s trip to Costa Rica, Cofer said she was in a state of shock. “Imagine waking up on May 13th and you’re Kait Armstrong. Your partner and lover of three and a half years had just spent nine hours at the [police] headquarters being interrogated for murder.”
^^rsbm

Wow-- just imagine allegedly spending 9 hours being interrogated for murder but it's your cray, cray, jealous girlfriend that flees the country on a stolen passport and changes her appearance not to be detected.

Good try, defense. Pass go and collect $200..... ;)
 

caradana

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Let me go on the record and say how glad I am that some clueless stoner surfer from Costa Rica did not offer details of my [nonexistent] dating/sex life to a reputable American newspaper for $5,000.

I get that we are talking about far bigger issues. But still.
Yuck.
 
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