The Washington Post

Brittany Norwood, the Lululemon murder and a mother’s worst nightmare

The words “yoga store” and “murder” don’t go together, do they? Nor does the fact that the killer in the grisly attack at Lululemon Athletica last year was the victim’s co-worker, a 29-year-old woman with no history of violence.

Investigators determined that Brittany Norwood murdered Jayna Murray and fabricated an account of the incident. (Montgomery County police)

We still don’t know, really, 10 months after the murder of 30-year-old Murray in the Bethesda store last March. Right after the body was discovered, Norwood spun a tale of masked rapists, but DNA doesn’t lie, and she soon confessed. In court, officials testified that Murray had sustained literally hundreds of injuries during an attack that had to have gone on for at least 16 minutes. Prosecutors also said the two argued after Murray caught Norwood stealing, though that motive is hardly an explanation.

The store is in a heavily trafficked suburban area, on a street The Post called “upscale,” a street where my kids come and go with their friends. They’re mean enough streets, though, that in the Apple store right next door to the Lululemon, employees heard Murray’s shrieks as the attack was in progress, and carried right on with their business.

Norwood will be sentenced Friday in Montgomery County, and prosecutors and defense attorneys have agreed on a life sentence. But should she ever be eligible for parole?

Today’s Post reports that the killer’s mother, Larkita Norwood, is among those who have implored the court not to take away all hope of parole. “This terrible tragedy is incomprehensible to me,’’ Norwood’s mother wrote, adding that she loves her daughter, the sixth of her nine children, all the same. “From the day the doctor told me I was with child and through all her life to this day, I have loved her as I love her now.”

Norwood’s attorneys said her earliest chance of parole would be in 25 years. They have argued that their client is “neither a calculating killer or a deranged psychopath,” but does, according to a psychiatric evaluation, suffer from depression.

Does Norwood deserve another chance? She showed no remorse during the trial, and no emotion when the verdict was read. So no, she probably doesn’t. But I can’t help hoping she gets one anyway, if only because I can’t bear the thought of another mother whose daughter is never coming home.

Melinda Henneberger is a Post political writer and anchors “She the People.” Follow her on Twitter at @MelindaDC.

Melinda Henneberger has been writing about politics and culture for the Washington Post since 2011.



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