The Washington Post

Blood-spatter expert testifies in yoga store killing

An expert in blood spatter took the stand Monday in the second week of Brittany Norwood’s trial in the killing of her co-worker at a Bethesda yoga store.

William Vosburgh told Montgomery County Circuit Court jurors that blood found on the walls around the body of Jayna Murray was “typical of a severe beating situation.”

He also testified that a red toolbox and hammer found near the body were “dumped or placed” there after other events had happened.

Norwood is accused of beating and stabbing Murray the night of March 11 in the Lululemon Athletica yoga store and staging elaborate cover-up.

In a report filed by prosecutors in September, Vosburgh had concluded that Murray was struck repeatedly as she fell to the floor in a narrow hallway leading to the store’s back door.

“Repeated blows in this confined space [occurred] during a transition from standing, to kneeling or crouching, to a position on or near the ground as the beating progressed,” Vosburgh wrote in a report filed with the court.

On Monday, Vosburgh testified that blood was found on the underside of a bookshelf near Murray’s body, and that she would have been lying on the ground when the wounds that produced that blood were inflicted. ”It simply can’t get there,” from a “standing-up fight,” he said.

Defense attorneys do not dispute that Norwood killed Murray. What jurors must decide is whether Norwood acted in a premeditated fashion, as prosecutors say, or whether she “lost it,” as her attorneys say, and never marshaled the intent required for a first-degree-murder conviction — and ultimately should face a shorter prison stay.

The morning after the attack, Norwood was discovered inside a store bathroom, tied up, with blood on her face. She was “periodically moaning” prosecutors wrote in court papers.

In the following days, Norwood told detectives that two masked men had slipped into the store after closing and attacked and raped her and Murray. But as police sifted through forensic evidence, Norwood’s story fell apart.

Monday’s testimony in Norwood’s murder trial was held in the courthouse’s largest courtroom. The trial is expected to last about eight days.


Photos: The trial of Brittany Norwood

Infographic: What authorities say happened at Lululemon

Jurors hear Lululemon worker describe fake attack

Defense: Norwood 'lost control'

Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County. He arrived at the paper in 2005, after reporting stops at the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of The Yoga Store Murder.



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