Prosecutors and defense attorneys on Monday began selecting a jury in the trial of Brittany Norwood, a 29-year-old charged with killing her co-worker in an upscale Bethesda yoga shop.
Because of extensive media coverage, a pool of about 300 potential jurors are expected to be questioned about their knowledge of the case. A panel of 12 jurors, plus alternates, will be selected for a trial that is expected to last about eight days.
On Monday morning, attorneys began questioning potential jurors who gathered in the largest courtroom in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
The next morning, Murray’s body was found face down in the store, with a large pool of blood next to her head and neck, according to court papers. Prosecutors have said she was stabbed, beaten with a weapon and left with a ligature around her neck. Her skull was crushed, and her spinal cord severed.
Norwood was discovered inside a bathroom, tied up, with blood on her face. She was “periodically moaning and appeared to be lapsing in and out of consciousness,” prosecutors wrote in court papers.
Norwood told detectives that after closing time, two masked men slipped in and attacked and sexually assaulted her and Murray.
Montgomery County Police Detective Deana Mackie previously testified in court that she interviewed Norwood on March 12. Norwood told her she heard one of the men attack Murray in the back of the store, but said the sounds grew faint, Mackie testified. Norwood also said that the other masked man attacked and raped her in a different part of the store, at one point using a clothes hanger during the sexual assault and calling her a “dirty whore.”
For days, detectives considered Norwood a victim.
But as police sifted through forensic evidence, prosecutors have said, Norwood’s story began to fall apart. They said the evidence shows she attacked Murray then staged her own injuries.
Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy has said in court that he planned to seek testimony from experts in six fields: blood-spatter, shoe-print, fingerprint, DNA, rape and forensic medical examination.
Norwood’s defense team at one point had indicated in court that they were exploring an insanity defense, known in Maryland as NCR, or Not Criminally Responsible. But ultimately they did not file such a plea.