Jury Reaches Verdict in Lululemon Murder Trial

Prosecution rests in Lululemon murder trial

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The last witness in the Lululemon murder trial said the last of at least 331 injuries killed Jayna Murray. (Courtroom sketches by William Hennessy.) (Published Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011)

    The jury has reached a verdict in the Lululemon murder case.

    Jayna Murray was still alive when she suffered the last of at least 331 wounds in a brutal slaying at the Bethesda Row Lululemon Athletica store in March, the medical examiner testified Wednesday.

    Day 6 of Lululemon Trial

    [DC] Day 6 of Lululemon Trial
    The morning update on the Lululemon trial in Rockville, Md. where the jury heard from the medical examiner about Murray's 331 wounds. (Published Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011)

    Murray's family left the courtroom Wednesday morning, as prosecutors presented graphic pictures from the autopsy. Defendant Brittany Norwood's mother and sister also left the courtroom, but her father stayed and listened.

    The defense objected to the presentation of dozens of pictures as evidence, saying that they would prejudice the jury. But the judge overruled, as the evidence was part of the prosecution's case to prove first-degree murder, and permitted nine of the pictures into evidence.

    The photographs illustrated to jurors the wounds inflicted on Murray's body, up to 100 of them defensive. The medical examiner, Dr. Mary Ripple, testified that Murray was alive through the entire attack, until she was stabbed in the back of her neck, the knife entering her brain and killing her within a minute.

    Norwood was behind the video display, which faced the jury. She sometimes closed her eyes or stared straight ahead, showing no emotion.

    The prosecution has been trying to show that the prolonged attack with at least five weapons -- a knife, a hammer, a wrench, a rope and a box cutter -- indicates premeditated murder.

    During cross examination, the defense asked Ripple if she could determine the length of the attack, and she said she could not.

    Douglas Wood, Norwood's attorney, did not present a defense.

    In closing arguments, Norwood was called an actress and manipulator by prosecutor John McCarthy. She changed weapons when one didn't do the job and lied to throw off investigators. McCarthy called Norwood's actions cunning, calculated and premeditated.

    Norwood's attorney admits his client killed her coworker Murray inside the store last March but insists the murder was not premeditated. He says an argument escalated into a fight and Norwood lost control.

    Murray was found dead inside the 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 believe Murray found store property in Norwood's bag and accused her of shoplifting. 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.

    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."

    Investigators have testified that Norwood bound herself -- an investigator demonstrated in court tightening a zip tie around his hands with his teeth -- and staged the scene, putting on men's size 14 sneakers to make large bloody footprints in the store. Both her blood and Murray's blood were found in Murray's car, which police say Norwood moved because it was double parked outside the store.

    On Tuesday, the lead detective in the case testified, telling the court he truly believed Norwood was a victim -- until her story began unraveling. Prosecutors also showed jurors tape of a lengthy police interview with Norwood they say helps prove the killing was premeditated and deliberate. During the interview, Norwood admitted moving Murray's car. She said she went back to the store because the men said they knew where she lived and she feared for her life.

    Murray's mother also took the stand Tuesday, calmly answering the prosecutor's questions. The defense tried to block her testimony as well,  but the judge ruled it was relevant. Phyllis Murray identified her daughter's car, BlackBerry and black jacket found at the scene.

    Norwood faces a life sentence if convicted of first-degree murder.