Yoga Murder Suspect Pleads Not Guilty, as Defense Casts Doubt on Boyfriend

Plus, D.A. requesting her medical records

Photos of Kaitlin Armstrong before and after arrest indicate she may have changed her facial features (Provided by U.S. Marshals, Travis County Sheriff's Office)

Kaitlin Armstrong – the Austin yoga instructor accused of killing 25-year-old cycling star Moriah "Mo" Wilson and then going on the run for 43 days until getting nabbed in Costa Rica, and who allegedly killed Wilson for swimming with Armstrong's boyfriend that day – pleaded not guilty Wednesday, July 20.

That's the headline that's spread virally across America: Court TV, the Daily Mail, New York Post, and a plethora of other news stations pounced on the plea by Austin's own "fugitive yoga teacher" and "love-triangle murder suspect." But it's important to note the plea came during her arraignment, a pretrial court hearing in which a defendant is formally charged, where a not guilty plea is routine – it can be changed later as a result of a plea deal, but pleading guilty at arraignment would waive a right to trial.

What is interesting is that Armstrong's defense attorneys, who include Rick Cofer (a well-known Austin criminal defense lawyer and Best of Austin winner), asked District Judge Brenda Kennedy for a speedy trial and had already filed what Kennedy called "all these motions" for evidence, the Austin American-Statesman reported. In court, Cofer added, "If the district attorney chose to indict this case without evidence to indict this case, that's on the district attorney."

Armstrong's jury trial is scheduled for late October (Kennedy is set to retire at the end of the year, after 35 years on county benches), and Cofer told the Statesman that "questions about both the circumstances and the police investigation itself still need to be answered." After the arraignment Wednesday, in talking with a group of reporters, Cofer also threw suspicion on Armstrong and Wilson's uncharged ex-boyfriend, Colin Strickland, the Statesman reported. "Why did the Austin Police Department seemingly ignore a tip about the former boyfriend of Ms. Wilson? … Did the inexperience of two key officers assigned to this case play a role in its apparent mishandling? Who vandalized the home of Kaitlin Armstrong and Colin Strickland the night of Wilson's death, and why?"

On the state's side, the District Attorney's Office has stayed fairly quiet, but an application for subpoena obtained by the Chronicle showed the state is looking into Armstrong's hospital records (including emergency room records, EMS reports, blood tests, CT scans, and blood alcohol content) from St. Joseph Medical Center in Houston on July 2, three days after Armstrong's arrest in Costa Rica.

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