wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

The Post Most: Local

Crime Scene
Posted at 07:10 PM ET, 11/02/2011

Brittany Norwood found guilty of first degree murder in Lululemon trial

See below for live tweets from the courtroom.

Lululemon trial

GALLERY: The trial of Brittany Norwood. | Above, Jayna Murray's parents arrive at the courthouse.

Brittany Norwood was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder in the killing of co-worker Jayna Murray at a Bethesda yoga store.

The jury’s verdict came after a six-day trial during which prosecutors detailed the brutal attack against Murray, 30. The young woman endured 331 stabbing and beating wounds before she died, a medical examiner testified.

“This was a brutal, slow attack,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said in his closing argument.

He asked jurors to do what he called “simple math” and imagine that an injury was inflicted every 3 seconds. “You’d be doing this for 16 minutes nonstop,” he said.

Prosecutors said that on the night of March 11, Norwood killed Murray inside the Lululemon Athletica store in downtown Bethesda then staged an elaborate cover-up. She made up a story about two masked men who slipped into the store and attacked.

Defense lawyers did not dispute that Norwood killed Murray. They said she simply snapped, and argued that it was not premeditated murder, a distinction that could make a big difference in the resolution of the case. In Maryland, premeditated murder carries the possibility of life with no chance for parole. Second-degree murder carries a maximum of 30 years in prison with a chance for release after 15 years.

On the morning of March 12, a manager at the Lululemon Athletica store arrived to find the shop in disarray and called 911. Officers who came found Murray dead in a back hallway. Norwood was in a bathroom, tied up with blood on her face. Prosecutors said she was “periodically moaning.”

Norwood was taken to the hospital and began to tell detectives a string of lies. She said the men appeared out of nowhere and attacked. One kept hitting Murray, she told police. Norwood said she was raped and a man threatened to slit her throat.

At first, police considered Norwood a victim. But the details didn’t add up, and the forensic evidence didn’t support her account.

There were no masked men, no sexual assaults.

After the attack, prosecutors suggested, Norwood used a pair of size-14 shoes to track bloody prints around the store – trying to make it appear that a large man had been there. She staged a robbery and tossed mops, brooms and chairs around the store.

Prosecutors said Norwood’s lies showed the cunning and guile of a killer who knew what she was doing. Defense attorneys say the lies should be seen in the context of their absurdity: an illustration of just how out of control Norwood was.

Near the end of McCarthy’s closing argument, Murray’s parents gripped each other tight — David’s arm around Phyllis’ neck. David fought back tears, and they kept their eyes closed. One of Murray’s brothers held his face in his hands. The other brother kept shaking his head. The brother’s wives wiped tears from their eyes.

The defense’s closing arguments described Norwood’s attack on Murray as the result of an “explosion,” not a premeditated plan, and that her clumsy coverup attempt didn’t indicate forethought.

For more on the story, keep reading after the live tweets.

The Post’s Katie Rogers is tweeting from the courthouse:

Earlier Wednesday, jurors heard from medical examiner Mary G. Ripple, who testified that Murray suffered 331 stabbing and beating wounds before her death.

“I believe she was alive for all of them,” Ripple told jurors.

Ripple, who described Murray’s wounds to the jury, was the final witness for the prosecution.

Defense attorneys did not put any witnesses on the stand.

Prosecutors have said many of the injuries were to Murray’s head and face, and that forensic examinations suggested that Norwood used an array of tools and items from the store — including a hammer, wrench, rope, knife and a metal peg used to hold up merchandise.

One of the most serious injuries was a stab wound to the back of Murray’s head, Ripple testified. She said Murray had many defensive wounds, including 83 that stretched just from her elbows to her fingertips.

Prosecutors showed jurors a photo of the right side of Murray’s face, purple with bruises. It had at least 26 injuries. There was another of wounds to her forehead, and another that showed injuries to her skull.

Members of Murray’s family left the courtroom while the photos were shown — the first time during the trial they had done so. Norwood’s father, Earl, remained in the courtroom while the photos were shown, but other members of her family did not.

Norwood herself sat at the defense table, her eyes often downcast.

Ripple testified that Murray suffered bruising and bleeding to the brain, injuries often seen in highspeed car accidents or falls from heights.

When McCarthy asked what type of weapon could have caused such injuries, Ripple said a heavy object swung with force. The prosecutor showed Ripple the metal merchandise peg, and she said the pattern of injuries were consistent with such a weapon.

On Wednesday morning, attorneys for both sides argued over how many photos of Murray’s wounds prosecutors could show jurors. McCarthy had 37 photos available and wanted to show them, he said, so jurors could understand the premeditated nature of the attack.

But defense attorney Douglas Wood argued that the graphic nature of the photos would prejudice the jury. Wood argued for diagrams or black-and-white photos. Ultimately, Greenberg ruled that McCarthy could show nine color photos.

This post has been updated.

MORE COVERAGE:

Photos: The trial of Brittany Norwood

Infographic: What authorities say happened at Lululemon

Dvorak: What’s scarier: Slaying or do-nothing bystanders?

Jurors hear Lululemon worker describe fake attack

Defense: Norwood 'lost control'

By and  |  07:10 PM ET, 11/02/2011

Next:

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company