A judge rules a coworker's phone conversation with Lululemon slaying victim Jayna Murray, which would establish motive in the case, is hearsay and not admissible.
A jury in Montgomery County Circuit court saw more bloody images from the Bethesda Row Lululemon Athletica homicide as the trial of Brittany Norwood entered a second week.
However, before testimony resumed on Monday morning, the judge decided some evidence that prosecutors wanted to present could not be heard.
Lawyers for the prosecution had hoped for jurors to hear testimony about a phone conversation between murder victim Jayna Murray and one of her coworkers, Chioma Nwakibu. According to Nwakibu, Murray had told her over the phone on the night of her murder that she had discovered stolen merchandise inside Brittany Norwood's purse. Nwakibu said Murray confronted Norwood about the alleged theft that evening, and Norwood said she didn't have a receipt because Nwakibu didn't give her one.
Testimony about the phone call would help the prosecution establish a motive -- that Norwood killed her coworker for discovering the shoplifting. But the judge decided since Murray is no longer alive to confirm the veracity of the conversation, it could only be considered hearsay. The prosecution was not allowed to call Nwakibu.
That could be a setback for prosecutors, according to lawyer and legal analyst Rene Sandler.
"Any time we are talking about first-degree murder, the state must prove intent," she said. "That's premeditation, deliberation and willfulness. Any evidence that tends to support motive before the killing is critical to the prosecution."
What jurors did get on Monday morning were more graphic images from inside the yoga store. Forensic expert Dr. William Vosburgh testified about blood spatter patterns at the scene. He told the court that the patterns of blood on the floor and other surfaces in the store indicated a substantial beating had taken place. He said the blood indicated strong force was used in landing many of the blows. He said that Murray had been struck with a series of blows -- first while standing, then while crouching and finally while on the floor.
Vosburgh also told the court that the pattern of blood indicated that Norwood had not been attacked in the bathroom where, the prosecution said, she tied herself up, and where police found her the next morning. The flow of blood from Norwood's forehead cut was straight down her face, indicating she was standing, not lying on the floor for hours.
Also Monday, DNA expert Erin Farr testified that she identified blood in Murray's car as coming from both Murray and Norwood, indicating Norwood drove the car after the killing
Detective Dimitri Ruvin testified that when Norwood was interviewed days later, her story about two assailants wearing masks and all black sounded crazy. What didn't add up was why they would leave behind the sneakers they wore during the attack. Prosecutors say Norwood wore the size 14 men's sneakers to leave bloody footprints to support her story about being attacked by the men.
News4's Megan McGrath said suspected killer Brittany Norwood has maintained a quiet and emotionless demeanor in the courtroom, even as bloody images are presented.
Stay with News4 for complete trial coverage.