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Kaitlin Armstrong ordered to pay murdered cyclist Moriah Wilson’s family $15 million in civil lawsuit

The Wilsons’ lawyer said the legal action ensures Armstrong, who was sentenced to 90 years in prison for the gravel racer’s murder, will not benefit financially from a film or book deal about the trial

A judge has ordered Kaitlin Armstrong, who was sentenced last November to 90 years in prison for the murder of Moriah Wilson, to pay the leading gravel cyclist’s family $15 million in damages.

The parents of Anna Moriah Wilson, known as Mo, filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Armstrong in a bid to ensure that the convicted killer never stands to profit from any potential book or film deal based on the murder, which attracted widespread media attention around the world and left the United States’ close-knit cycling community in shock.

Last November, a jury in Texas took under three hours to find Armstrong guilty of Wilson’s murder in May 2022, and she was later sentenced to 90 years in prison, more than double the minimum of 40 years that prosecutors had been seeking in the case.

25-year-old Wilson, one of the US cycling scene’s most promising gravel racers, was shot and killed by Armstrong, hours after going for a swim and having dinner with fellow cyclist Colin Strickland, Armstrong’s partner, and with whom Wilson had a brief romantic relationship.

> Kaitlin Armstrong jailed for 90 years for murder of gravel cyclist Mo Wilson

In the wake of Armstrong’s conviction and sentencing, Wilson’s family filed a civil lawsuit in Travis County, Texas, seeking damages.

On Monday, according to court documents obtained by KXAN, judge Daniella DeSata Lyttle ordered that Karen and Eric Wilson should be paid $5 million each for the “mental anguish, including emotional pain, torment, and suffering from the death of [their] daughter”.

Both Wilson’s parents were also granted $2.5 million each for exemplary damages, “in an amount which the court determines sufficient to deter the same or similar actions which gave rise to this suit by [Armstrong] in the future”.

The judgement was made by default after Armstrong failed to respond to the lawsuit or “make an appearance in this case” by the stated deadline, and no lawyer was listed to represent the convicted killer.

Speaking to KXAN, the Wilsons’ lawyer, Randy Howry, emphasised that the civil case had nothing to do with the family “wanting to make a profit”, but was filed to ensure that Armstrong never benefits financially from the case and the attention it garnered.

“If there’s ever an opportunity for her to financially benefit from this crime, this judgement will prevent her from getting any of that money until my clients are properly compensated,” he said, noting the lawsuit also aims to prevent Armstrong’s friends and family from taking advantage of legal loopholes to receive money on her behalf.

“There will be no cycling career, no future wedding, or grandkids”

In an affidavit written as part of the lawsuit, Wilson’s mother Karen said: “As a family, we are broken, incomplete, and will forever suffer the void of her presence on this earth. The empty chair at the family dining table, where she once sat, haunts every holiday and family get-together.”

“Rather than looking forward to sharing in her life and successes, we are faced with an emptiness hard to describe,” Eric Wilson added.

“There will be no cycling career, no future wedding, or grandkids, only thoughts of wishing things could be different, wondering why this happened, and how we are going to live through the remaining years of our lives with this emotional pain.”

On the day of her killing in May 2022, Wilson was in Austin to participate in the Gravel Locos race, which she was favourite to win, where she met Strickland for a swim and dinner.

Strickland and Armstrong had broken up for a period the previous year, during which time he and Wilson had a short relationship, although he has insisted that at the time of her murder they were no more than platonic friends.

Last year’s trial heard that minutes after Strickland dropped Wilson off at the apartment of a friend with whom she was staying, Armstrong arrived in her Jeep at the same address, having followed her movements via Strava.

The court heard that the 37-year-old shot Wilson three times, twice in the head and once in the heart.

Kaitlin Armstrong via US Marshals

> "That's why it's so shocking": Colin Strickland says on-the-run murder suspect Kaitlin Armstrong "one of the least volatile people I have ever met"

She was subsequently interviewed by police on an unrelated matter and released, at which point she sold her car and left Texas, visiting her sister in New York and using her passport to flee the country.

Armstrong was tracked down six weeks later in Costa Rica, where she passed herself off as a yoga teacher. She had dyed her hair and had also undergone plastic surgery to try and alter her appearance.

At the time of her murder, 25-year-old Wilson had recently left her job at Specialized to focus on her racing career.

After finishing second at the Leadville 100 MTB race and winning the Big Sugar Gravel in 2021, she progressed rapidly during the early part of 2022, putting together a string of impressive victories at Lake Sonoma MTB, Huffmaster Hopper, the Sea Otter Classic Fuego MTB 80K, and the Belgian Waffle Ride, taken just a week before her death.

In the wake of his sister’s tragic death, Wilson’s brother Matt has collaborated with family, friends and the wider cycling community in the US to establish the Moriah Wilson Foundation.

Matt said he hoped that the organisation will honour his sister’s legacy by helping to open access to sports, recreation, and educational programmes for groups of people that may otherwise be overlooked. 

“One of the ways she was going to be able to deal with [her growing status as an athlete] and be more comfortable with it was to use it in a way that wasn’t all about her,” he said. “To use it in a way to impact community, cycling, sports, youth, and giving back.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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4 comments

Avatar
polainm | 4 weeks ago
3 likes

The crazy thing is, if she'd have killed Mo with a vehicle it would have been 'an accident' and Kaitlin would have got away with murder, as most drivers do. 

Avatar
S.E. | 1 month ago
0 likes

So he was cheating on her with an ex... she should have cut him off instead of becoming a criminal.

Too bad emotions are often stronger than reason.

Avatar
Matthew Acton-Varian | 1 month ago
4 likes

I had heard rumours that Armstrong was trying to sell her story.

It's disgusting that it is perfectly legal for convicted criminals to do so - and also sue for defamation if a book, TV series or film that was made about them without their consent whilst they are still alive. Fair play for Moriah Wilson's family for doing what they can to block it.

If the victim's family wants the story told, then let it be made and let the victim's family profit.

Avatar
Freddy56 | 1 month ago
2 likes

RIP, sad case and lost talent.

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