The Washington Post

Indictment in yoga store slaying

The Bethesda yoga store worker who allegedly killed her co-worker during a spat over stolen merchandise was indicted Thursday by a Montgomery County grand jury on a charge of murder, prosecutors said.

Brittany Norwood, 28, faces up to life in prison if she is convicted, officials said. She remains locked up in the Montgomery jail on no bond.

Brittany Norwood faces up to life in prison without the chance of parole if she is convicted of killing Jayna Murray at the Bethesda Lululemon in March, officials said. (Courtesy of Montgomery County Police/COURTESY OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE)

In making the announcement Thursday, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said he would serve as lead prosecutor, and would handle the case with Assistant State’s Attorney Marybeth Ayres.

On March 11, as Norwood and Murray were leaving the store, they checked each others bags, a common anti-theft procedure, officials said. Murray thought she saw store merchandise in Norwood’s bag.

Police said the two made their way back to the store a short time later after Norwood said she had forgotten her wallet.

Once inside, police said, the two began arguing, and Norwood stabbed and bludgeoned Murray to death. Norwood then embarked on an elaborate coverup – injuring herself, tying herself up, and laying down on a bathroom floor where she was discovered the next morning, according to police.

Norwood told detectives that two masked men had slipped into the store and attacked them both. But detectives soon had doubts about her story.

Norwood grew up outside Seattle, where she was a star soccer player. She worked at the Willard InterContinental Hotel and Lululemon, where she gained a reputation for her outgoing, smiling persona. But some of those close to her have told of a different side to Norwood, one that involved allegations of theft and stalking.

McCarthy, an experienced courtroom attorney, now spends much of his time administrating his office. But he has tried high-profile cases recently, gaining convictions against Renee Bowman, who killed two of her daughters and stuffed their bodies into a freezer, and Anthony Kelly, who broke into a Silver Spring house and killed a man and his daughter.

Norwood’s attorney, Christopher Griffiths, declined to comment.

Griffiths also comes to the case with well-regarded courtroom skills. He and his partner, Douglas Wood, and known for their aggressiveness.

No trial date has been set, prosecutors said.

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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