On Wednesday, Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy laid out his take on what occurred on that horrible day in march inside the Bethesda Lululemon store.
“This killing began almost instantaneously,” he stated before a hushed, packed courtroom as he began his closing argument.
He said suspect Brittany Norwood lured her co-worker Jayna Murray back to the store with one thing in mind.
“The only reason to bring her back was to kill her,” he said.
He dubbed Norwood an actress and manipulator, reminding the jury that during her first police interview from a hospital bed, she asked a detective “How is Jayna?” and claimed that she’d tried to help her co-worker.
The case hinged on premeditation. The state sought a first-degree murder conviction, which carries a sentence of life without parole. Under Maryland law, premeditation can occur in moments. As McCarthy laid out the attack for jurors, he stressed the number of times Murray was struck and the different weapons Norwood used.
“Why did she switch weapons?” McCarthy asked the jury. “Because the first, and the second, and the third, and the fourth and the fifth and the sixth didn’t do the job.”
Employees at a neighboring Apple store testified that they heard noise for 9 minutes, including a woman’s call for help and another voice. McCarthy speculated that the attack lasted 16 minutes. Murray had a staggering 331 distinct injuries, including 105 defensive wounds on her arms that indicate she tried to shield herself, the according medical examiner.
“Weapons are not magically appearing in her hands,” he said about Norwood. “There are conscious decisions to re-arm because what you’re doing is not getting the job done.”
To get the knife, the weapon that the medical examiner says ended Murray’s life, Norwood “had to leave where Jayna was…and walk into the back room…to the kitchen,” McCarthy said.
The defense hoped for second-degree murder, which carries up to 30 years in prison with the chance of parole after 15 years, but the jury wasn’t swayed by their argument that Norwood killed Murray in a fit of rage without thinking.
Then there was the elaborate cover-up concocted by Norwood.
“Could you begin to even count how many times she lied? It’s almost impossible,” McCarthy said. “This woman was a phenomenal actress.”
McCarthy said shoe prints at a store sink showed Norwood cleaned up and doctored the crime scene. He said she intentionally soaked men’s sized 14 shoes in Murray’s blood to make it seem like someone else committed the crime, based on expert testimony that Norwood cleaned off those shoes and returned them to a shelf.
“She had 10 hours to make this scene look the way she wanted,” McCarthy said, indicating that everything at the crime scene was a manipulation.
Norwood was found by police in a pool of blood with her hands secured with a zip tie in the women’s bathroom, a setup that McCarthy said “this tells me how cunning and cool and premeditated this act was.”
He said Norwood attacked Murray from behind. Murray was almost immediately compromised and bleeding, he says. A palm print was found on a TV monitor near the back. He said she fled to the closest door, the back emergency exit. “This was her last mad dash to save her life,” he said.
But Norwood pulled the woman back into the hallway, trapping her. He said that along with the merchandise peg, a number of other in-store items were likely used during the attack, including a hammer, box cutter, rope, a knife and a mannequin peg. He called the attack an “onslaught.”