They spoke of their rage. They spoke of the sleepless nights, the despair, their private thoughts that God should just take them now, so they could reunite in heaven with their daughter, their sister, their sister-in-law, their girlfriend — Jayna Troxel Murray.
They referenced the hell that awaited her killer, Brittany Norwood, who tortured Murray with more than 300 blows inside the Bethesda
Lululemon store one spring night last March.
Jayna Murray’s family and friends showed up for Norwood’s sentencing with not a Hallmark moment in sight. There would not be any forgiveness, any understanding.
“I am a victim of murder, my sister’s Jayna Murray’s murder,” said her brother Hugh, an Army captain dressed in his military uniform. “Death is permanent. I will never heal.”
Their rage permeated the packed courtroom, row after row, as Jayna’s family and friends sobbed through the proceedings. And their rage apparently penetrated the heart and mind of Judge Robert A. Greenberg, who in handing down a life sentence without the possibility of parole delivered one of the angriest sentencing speeches I can recall hearing.
Raising his voice at times and staring coldly at Norwood, Greenberg called her actions barbaric, devious, coldblooded.
“You mutilated this woman,” he said.
Murray’s parents, David and Phyllis, sat in the second row gripping each other tightly.
Greenberg’s anger was not limited to Norwood. He also had it in for the employees at the Bethesda Apple store, where according to their own testimony, workers heard the sounds of violence but did nothing.
“The callous indifference of those Apple store employees,” Greenberg said. “They did not do a blessed thing.”
Greenberg’s rage from the bench reflected a community’s rage, a community that still has not come to terms with how a young woman could be so brutally murdered while people nearby heard what was happening but did not so much as dial 911 from one of the dozens of iPhones sitting right in front of them.
The outrage about a moment when the world did not operate as it should has since filled comments on newspaper stories, Twitter, Facebook, the TV news.
Judges take a lot of grief in this country. They often give up lucrative private practices to sit up high on a bench to perform the ultimate but often thankless job of the law — adjudication. For their efforts, they are sometimes vilified in the press and mocked in the political arena.
But this was a moment, this anger in Judge Greenberg’s voice, that was worthy of the higher calling of judging. Greenberg spoke on behalf of the community where he has lived and worked almost his whole life. He became one of us.
“You will see another sunrise, another sunset,” Greenberg told Norwood. Christmases. Visits from family. “The only visits Jayna will have will be those to her grave.”
Greenberg then asked Norwood to stand, so he could disregard her and her family’s plea for a life sentence with a chance of parole. Greenberg offered Norwood no mercy. He offered her no hope.