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FIRST ON FOX: An attorney for Kaitlin Armstrong, the Texas woman accused of gunning down a pro cyclist who had gone on a date with her boyfriend the evening of her death, is hitting back at prosecutors’ attempts to limit the communications with the media.
In a court filing Monday, Armstrong’s defense attorney Rick Cofer countered the prosecution’s motion for a gag order on the case by asking Judge Brenda Kennedy to “prohibit prejudicial comment” to the media as the narrative of the case has already been well established by prosecutors and law enforcement, whose actions he has criticized as flawed in other court filings.
“The misogynistic and fictitious theme of most relevant articles is that Ms. Armstrong is a ‘possessive’ woman who ‘gunned down’ her ‘romantic rival’ in a ‘fit of jealousy,’” the court filing reads. “The case has garnered sensationalized headlines in media outlets across the English-speaking world.”
Those headlines have almost entirely been driven by “government actors” and subsequent discussion of the state’s narrative on social media, according to the filing, as well as a “carnival-like media storm.”
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Armstrong, 34, is accused of fatally shooting Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson on May 11 after the victim, a 25-year-old pro cycling star, went out for dinner, drinks and a swim with Colin Strickland, Armstrong’s 35-year-old boyfriend and also a professional cyclist.
In particular, Armstrong’s defense has taken issue with Detective Richard Spitler’s affidavit in support of a warrant for her arrest, which her lawyers have separately alleged is full of “factual errors,” “misattributions,” and “incorrect assertions.”
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The new filing also blasts law enforcement for holding a news briefing after Armstrong’s arrest in Costa Rica.
“While standing at the courthouse doors, defense counsel for Ms. Armstrong requested admission to observe the press conference but was denied access by the U.S. Marshal’s Office,” the filing reads. “Afterwards, defense counsel advised U.S. District Court Judges Yeakel and Pitman about the exclusion of defense counsel from the press conference.”
According to the filing, the Marshals were “admonished for their conduct” and later apologized.
“Deputy [Marshal Brandon] Filla portrayed Ms. Armstrong’s lawful travel to New York as ‘fleeing’ from justice; speculated about changes to Ms. Armstrong’s face and hair color as evidence of flight; and painted an association of Ms. Armstrong with the most ‘violent’ and ‘worst of the worst’ criminals who ‘wreak havoc’ on the community,” the filing continues. “Deputy Filla did not mention the ’43-day manhunt’ for Ms. Armstrong was a direct result of law enforcement incompetence.”
Shortly after Wilson’s death, Austin police arrested Armstrong on an unrelated warrant, questioned her without reading her Miranda rights and accidentally let her go due to a clerical error, according to court filings. Then she flew to New York, was spotted at another airport and New Jersey and turned up weeks later on a beach in Costa Rica, where local police arrested her on an immigration violation.
Authorities there deported her to the U.S., where she is being held on $3 million bail in Austin.
“The result of this widespread, biased publicity is that there is virtually nowhere in the English-speaking world where Ms. Armstrong could receive a fair trial today,” the filing reads.
Previously undisclosed information revealed in court filings last week also shows 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.
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“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, made public in court filings last week. “She helped her secure like $20,000 in unemployment just by going, being on the phone, for five days. Like she is, has only shown shining examples…Has only shown absolute, above and beyond examples of human compassion and thoughtfulness and care and going far out of her way for ridiculous things.”
During the interview, he also accused Spitler of “leading a narrative” and “manipulating” him.
Strickland has declined numerous Fox News Digital requests for comment, other than to say, “Please f— off.”
His statements only came to light through court filings – and shortly after they did, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office asked the court for a gag order that would prevent both sides from discussing the case with the media.
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But because the government’s narrative has been so publicly exposed, according to Armstrong’s defense team, the gag order would effectively only silence their side.
“[The district attorney’s office] waited 94 days from the issuance of Ms. Armstrong’s arrest warrant before raising their concern for fairness,” her defense wrote Monday. “During that time, the government actively participated in media events, and otherwise supplied media with prejudicial images of Ms. Armstrong. The State has waived any standing in seeking a media blackout.”
In separate filings last week, Armstrong’s defense also asked the judge to suppress evidence obtained during a police interview in which the detective allegedly failed to mirandize the suspect and to respect her right to a speedy trial.
Armstrong’s next hearing is set for Wednesday morning, and the jury docket call is scheduled for Oct. 19.