Judge in Lululemon killing allows police interviews of defendant
By Dan Morse,
Lying in a hospital bed, hours after her co-worker was found brutally attacked inside a Bethesda yoga store, Brittany Norwood uncorked just one of what prosecutors described Friday as a week-long series of outrageous lies.
“Is my girlfriend okay?” Norwood asked Detective Deana Mackie.
Four days later, questioned by two other detectives, Norwood asked whether they had had any luck tracking down the two masked men she said attacked her and her co-worker.
“Is there any good news?” she asked, according to prosecutors.
But prosecutors say it was all part of an elaborate coverup that eventually unraveled and led to the murder case that was the subject of a pre-trial hearing Friday in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Prosecutors say Norwood, 29, stabbed and bludgeoned to death Jayna Murray, 30, inside the Lululemon Athletica store March 11.
The hearing was called because defense attorneys wanted a judge to toss out five interviews Norwood had with detectives. They argued that detectives surely should have been suspicious of Norwood early in the case and that those suspicions translated to detectives questioning Norwood in a manner that violated her constitutional rights.
Judge Robert A. Greenberg rejected most of their requests, basing part of his decision on how calm and willing to talk Norwood appeared. “She thought she had everybody duped,” Greenberg said.
He said the recorded interviews show she is a highly intelligent woman who could engender sympathy. “She could tug on your heartstrings,” Greenberg said.
The judge stressed he was making those comments about Norwood in the context of the pre-trial hearing, much of which hinged on whether Norwood was a willing participant in the interviews. At any trial down the road, he noted, jurors will make their own judgment of Norwood’s character and statements.
The trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 24. Norwood’s attorneys, Douglas Wood, Christopher Griffiths and Harry Trainor, have indicated they likely will file an insanity plea because of a mental illness. If they do, that could push the trial back.
Norwood’s interviews with detectives likely will play a key role for prosecutors John McCarthy and Marybeth Ayres, showing what they say is a series of lies she told. One of the interviews was audiotaped, and two were videotaped.
Greenberg excluded a portion of a March 18 interview, saying that as Norwood’s story completely crumbled in the eyes of the detectives and she indicated she no longer wanted to talk, she should have been told of her rights to remain silent and consult with an attorney.