AUSTIN, Texas (Court TV) — In a filing requesting a new trial after her conviction for murdering her romantic rival, Kaitlin Armstrong revealed that she was pregnant when she was arrested in Costa Rica.
Armstrong’s new attorney has filed an appeal of her conviction and sentences, arguing, in part, that her original counsel was ineffective at best and was “tragically equivalent to ‘a total absence of advocacy skills'” at Armstrong’s sentencing.
The prosecution called Dr. Tim Kalafut as an expert in forensic science during its rebuttal case. Immediately after Kalafut testified, a second expert in the case, Tiffany Roy, contacted the attorneys to let them know that she felt that Kalafut’s testimony was inaccurate and misleading. The court record obtained by Court TV includes a copy of an email Roy sent to Kalafut following his testimony, where she said she would be filing a formal complaint against him with the Texas Forensic Science Commission.
“You authored no report in this case. You were not listed as a witness,” Roy said in the email. “You were called in rebuttal after the expert assisting the defense had already been released and was in the car on his way back to Dallas. I don’t even know if that’s legal. It shouldn’t be. You testified for the prosecutor and you were likely paid to provide this opinion. I doubt sincerely if this opinion was reviewed by another person qualified to perform evaluations like this.”
The formal complaint Roy filed with the commission says, “Dr. Kalafut provided an opinion in this case on the probability of evidence given proposed activities. His analysis departs from established field best practice that require him to prepare a written report, research relevant literature, assign probabilities based on the literature, delineate on what specific studies he relied on in formulating his opinion and select balanced propositions.” The defense and prosecution said they received no reports from Kalafut.
Armstrong’s attorneys also asked the court to consider offering her a new sentencing phase after they said new evidence that they believed would have changed the jury’s decision came to light.
Her new attorneys said that Armstrong’s trial attorney offered a “deficient performance,” which may have impacted the punishment verdict. Part of that deficient performance was not contacting a list of witnesses the new attorney included in the motion, including Armstrong’s mother, childhood best friend and several family friends. “None reported being contacted by the defense regarding possibly testifying at sentencing though all were willing and could have been available.”
Armstrong’s father and sister testified on her behalf during the sentencing phase of her trial. But Armstrong’s new attorneys tried to paint a more complete picture of a turbulent home life during their client’s childhood, saying that her father essentially left the family after carrying out a year-long affair with a younger woman who got pregnant.
“As her family struggled during her childhood, her best childhood friend also recalled Kaitlin was the victim of multiple instances of (actual or attempted) sexual violence. Her sister has observed Kaitlin’s ability to dissociated because of the trauma of her childhood.”
The attorneys noted that Armstrong had also been pregnant twice, “one occasion of which was during or near the time of her arrest.” No further details about the pregnancies were offered.
At the time of the murder, Armstrong had been in a tumultuous relationship with pro cyclist Colin Strickworth, who had seen the victim romantically.
No hearing date on the new motion has been scheduled.