Timeline: Lululemon Murder Investigation and Trial
From the homicide on March 11 to the murder conviction of Brittany Norwood, Patch walks you through how the story unfolded.
It was on March 12, 2011 when Patch first reported that the body of Jayna Murray had been found in the Lululemon Athletica yoga and athletic wear shop on Bethesda Row. Murray, 30, was an employee at the high-end clothing boutique.
Police initially investigated the story told to them by another female store employee they described as the surviving victim -- that she and Murray had been brutally attacked by two masked men at the shop. The story shocked and terrified the community and prompted police to investigate hundreds of leads in the search for the assailants.
Seven months later, the woman initially thought to be that victim, Murray's co-worker Brittany Norwood, 29, was convicted of first-degree murder in her slaying.
Here's how the story unfolded:
March 12: Montgomery County Police are called to the scene of the Lululemon Athletica store around 8:12 a.m. where they find the body of Jayna Murray and her surviving co-worker Brittany Norwood, after what they thought was a robbery turned brutal attack and homicide.
Residents and Bethesda Row shoppers are shocked by reports. Kristie Donohue, manager of J. McLaughlin, a boutique across the street from Lululemon, tells Patch: "This is an area I would never have expected this to happen. Period. I just think we’ve always felt so safe. It’s something we’ve taken for granted. Maybe this is an eye-opener that we have to be more aware.”
March 13—17: As Murray's family mourns her death, police continue to investigate her homicide and Norwood's apparent assault. The community plans to remember Murray with a vigil and a memorial foundation is set up in her name as business owners look into safety measures for the popular urban district.
March 18: On the evening of Murray's vigil, police announce the arrest of Norwood, who they say was initially considered to be the surviving victim of an alleged attack at the shop. The victim-turned-suspect is charged with first-degree murder.
March 21: Norwood appears via closed-circuit television in court where prosecutors say her story was 'inconsistent' and recall how the evidence pointed towards her. They say Norwood elaborately staged the crime scene and lied to police to cover up the crime. They say Murray discovered Norwood attempting to steal from the shop the night of the crime, a possible motive. She is ordered to remain in custody without bond.
March 24—28: Patch reports that Norwood is not eligible for the death penalty. She retains a private attorney.
April 14: Norwood's preliminary hearing is postponed.
May 5: A grand jury indicts Norwood for the March 11 murder of Jayna Murray.
May 20: A trial date is set for Oct. 24.
June 24: Three months after the murder, Lululemon re-opens after renovating the store. Murray's family visits the store and is thankful for the tribute to Jayna in the store's window. Patch sits with the Murray family for an interview.
Aug. 5: The Associated Press reports that Norwood may get a life sentence if convicted.
Aug. 17: The defense says they believe Norwood is mentally ill and tell a judge they are exploring entering an insanity plea on her behalf.
Sept. 2—3: The defense asks the judge to bar certain statements Norwood made to police from trial -- statements in which her story about an attack is becoming less and less plausible -- but the judge rules that she made voluntary statements.
"This is a young woman that’s totally facile, totally with it, knew what she was doing," said Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert Greenberg, who is to preside over the trial.
Sept. 12: ABC7 reports that Norwood's lawyers will not enter an insanity plea.
Sept. 18: The Bethesda community gathers to honor Jayna Murray in a memorial 5K run/walk.
Oct. 14: Norwood's defense team argues that Murray's accusation that Norwood was stealing from the store should be barred from trial as well as numerous other pieces of evidence compiled by the prosecution. Greenberg rules that the content of phone calls Murray made to co-workers just before she was killed -- during which she reports that Norwood may have been stealing -- could be considered hearsay.
Oct. 26: Opening statements begin in the trial against Norwood, during which her defense team says she lost it the night of March 11, apparently angling for a conviction on the lesser charge of second-degree murder. But the prosecution paints a different story, saying the crime was premeditated. They say Norwood lured Murray back to the shop and used up to eight instruments against her -- including a hammer, a wrench, a heavy metal merchandise peg, box cutters and a rope -- all from within the store. They say Murray sustained at least 322 injuries.
The first witnesses are called to testify, including the Lululemon Bethesda store manager, a Montgomery County police officer and corporal, an EMT, and a bystander who found Murray's body. Photos from the crime scene are entered as evidence.
Oct. 27: Norwood's interview tape is played in court. On the tape, Norwood says, "All I could think is this was all my fault." A forensic investigator who processed the crime scene and collected evidence from the shop testifies.
Oct. 28: Lululemon employees take the stand to discuss their interactions with Murray and Norwood, and employees from the Apple store next door discuss what they heard the night of the homicide.
The testimony of the Apple employees, who heard grunting, screaming, and cries for help but did not call 911, draws backlash from the community.
Oct. 31: Judge Robert Greenberg rules the jury will not be allowed to hear testimony about March 11 phone conversations between Murray and another Lululemon employee. Prosecutors wanted to use the content of the call to establish motive. In the call the two allegedly discussed whether the employee sold Norwood a pair of Lululemon pants Murray discovered in Norwood's bag.
Dr. William Vosburgh, an expert in blood stain pattern analysis, also takes the stand, along with Det. Dimitry Ruvin, who describes the moment he began to question Norwood's story.
"Either we are dealing with two crazy Columbine High School-type kids, or this is all not real," Ruvin told the jury, recounting his thoughts following a March 14 interview with Norwood.
Nov. 1: The jury watches a video of Norwood recorded at county police headquarters March 18. In it, Norwood describes how her alleged attackers forced her to move Murray's car. Norwood had initially denied being in the car, but forensic evidence linked her to the vehicle. The video comes during the testimony of James Drewry, one of the lead detectives on the case, who tells Norwood on the video that her story "doesn't make sense."
During the interview, Norwood grows increasingly defensive as her story crumbles.
Murray's mother, Phyllis, briefly takes the stand to identify pictures of her daughter, along with her Blackberry, jacket and car.
Nov. 2: The state's final witness, medical examiner Mary Ripple, is called to the stand. Ripple tells the jury she believes Murray sustained at least 331 injuries, all while she was still alive.
The state rests its case following Ripple's testimony, and the defense does not call witnesses. During closing statements, the defense argues the killing and Norwood's half-baked cover story are the product of someone who is delusional. The state argues that Norwood had time to premeditate the killing because of how long it took to cause all of Murray's injuries and to change weapons.
"This crime took an enormous amount of time and there were dozens of opportunities, multiple times for her to stop this,” McCarthy says.
Shortly before 6 p.m., the jury enters deliberations. It takes them just over an hour to deliberate before they read their verdict -- Norwood is guilty of first-degree murder.
"What swayed everyone over was the number of ferocious wounds to the head and face prior to the victim actually dying," juror Donny Knepper tells the media.
The evidence, he says, was "overwhelming."
The Murray family thanks prosecutors, police, the media, and the jury. “I know the trauma our family has been through and I want no other family to go through this," Murray's mother, Phyllis, tells the media. "I felt the brutality was indescribable. I want no other victim.”
Jan. 27, 2012: Brittany Norwood is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In handing down his sentence, Judge Robert Greenberg angrily condemned Norwood, calling her "one hell of a liar."
“After every blow, you had a chance to think about what you were doing,” Greenberg said.
Just before learning her fate, Norwood stood in court and addressed the Murray family. “I hope for the Murray family, someday you’ll be able to find forgiveness in your heart,” she said. “I am truly sorry.”
Following the sentencing, David Murray called the apology "too little, too late."