A young woman will spend the rest of her life in jail, for killing her co-worker, Jayna Murray, inside a yoga store in Bethesda. Jackie Bensen has reaction from the victim's family.
The woman convicted in the brutal murder of a coworker at a Lululemon Athletica store was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Friday.
At sentencing, Judge Robert Greenberg said in his entire career he can remember maybe two crimes that match in brutality Brittany Norwood killing Jayna Murray at the Bethesda Row store last year. A Montgomery County jury found Norwood guilty of first-degree murder in November.
Eight family members and friends gave impact statements in court Friday.
"Life without parole is my request," said Jayna Murray's mother, Phyllis, at sentencing, asking for the most severe sentence possible.
"My daughter's murderer should never be able to walk the streets as a free person ever again," said David Murray, the victim's father.
Jayna Murray's sister said the Murrays are shadows of their former selves. Her brother Dirk said his sons write letters to their aunt and burn them so she'll get them in heaven.
"I know whatever I say, it will not take away the pain of losing Jayna," Norwood said. "I am truly sorry."
That was the first apology or remorse the Murrays heard from Norwood, David Murray said, and they believe she said it only in hope of getting a shorter sentence.
In asking for the possibility for parole, Norwood said she wasn't asking for her own sake.
"I ask for my family," she said, "especially my mom and dad."
"Give her a gift she doesn't deserve," defense attorney Douglas Wood said, "the gift of hope."
Wood added that he believes the Murrays will be able to move on and the Norwoods won't.
"Doug Wood, by virtue of his law degree, is a learned man," David Murray said after sentencing. "I was appalled when he said today that the Murrays would heal and the Norwoods would not."
Wood later clarified he did not mean to imply the Norwoods have lost more than the Murrays, and he insisted that Norwood is indeed truly sorry.
In handing down the stiffest penalty he could, Judge Greenberg described Norwood's crime as cold, deliberate and malicious, in no doubt calculated.
Murray was found dead inside the Lululemon store March 12. Norwood was at the scene injured, and bound by a zip tie. She told police two masked men dressed in black, one tall and one short, attacked and sexually assaulted Murray and herself the previous night after closing. On March 18, police charged Norwood.
Investigators said Murray found store property in Norwood's bag and accused her of shoplifting.
Prosecutors said Norwood called Murray back to the store after she left, saying she'd left her wallet inside and needed to be let back in to get it. That's when Norwood attacked Murray, authorities said.
Murray suffered at least 331 wounds from various weapons -- a knife, a hammer, a wrench, a rope and a box cutter, at least -- including 107 defensive wounds, which the medical examiner had never seen before, the prosecution said.
"Jayna's wounds weren't death wounds," State's Attorney John McCarthy said at sentencing. "They were torture wounds."
“I’ve always been protective of my sister, and it’s impossible to imagine the pain she endured,” Jayna Murray's brother Hugh said.
Two employees at the Apple Store next door testified to hearing the attack from 10:10 p.m. until 10:19 p.m. They heard yelling, screaming and two voices, one calling out, "God help me. Please help me."
Judge Greenberg called their failure to respond "callous indifference."
“We were raised always to do something to help those in need,” Hugh Murray said. “I still can’t understand why they didn’t do anything, but it further bothers me that we still haven’t gotten even a sympathy card from them, Apple, anything.”
The prosecution said Norwood bound herself and staged the scene, putting on men's size 14 sneakers to make large bloody footprints in the store to represent the tall man she said attacked them.
"Because of your lies you had the entire community terrorized," Judge Greenberg said.
Both her blood and Murray's blood were found in Murray's car, which police said Norwood moved because it was double parked outside the store. Later she told police she moved Murray’s car and went back to the store because the men she claimed attacked them said they knew where she lived and she feared for her life.
Defense attorney Wood did not call any witnesses during the trial. In his closing argument, Wood admitted his client killed her coworker but insisted the murder was not premeditated. He said an argument escalated into a fight and Norwood lost control.
Jurors said the brutality and length of the attack indicated premeditation.