Lululemon murder trial: Defense admits Norwood killed Murray

Prosecutors say Norwood beat and slahed fellow employee Jayna Murray to death in March. (Family photo)

(AP, ABC7) - On Wednesday, the lawyer of Brittany Norwood admitted that the woman killed Jayna Murray at the Lululemon store in Bethesda in March, but claimed it was during a fight as opposed to first-degree murder.

Norwood’s lawyer, Douglas Wood, said during opening arguments that Norwood lost control but there was no premeditation. Norwood grabbed whatever weapons were within her reach, the lawyer said.

"Jayna was killed by Brittany. It occurred in a fight. Brittany Norwood lost it. She lost control,” said defense attorney Wood says. “There was a horrific argument a horrific fight. It was not first-degree murder.”

State's Attorney John McCarthy argued that the slaying was premeditated murder. He said the slaying took a long time and there was ample opportunity for Norwood to choose a different course of action.

McCarthy presented details of how he claims Murray was murdered, showing jurors bloody photos of Murray and Norwood as they were found in the store he said Murray suffered from 322 different injuries. He held up several of the alleged murder weapons, including a wrench, a box cutter and rope.

During a lunch break, Murray's parents and supporters declined comment.

Earlier, a jury of six men and six women was selected. Montgomery County Circuit Judge Robert Greenberg restricted prosecutors' use of certain pictures during opening statements, including one showing Murray's crushed skull.

He said other pictures, including one showing Norwood as she was found inside the shop after police were called as well as photos of her hand and forehead, were permissible. In total, Greenberg allowed five photos of Murray to be shown during opening statements. Defense attorneys had argued that the photos of killed Jayna Murray are overly prejudicial.

Some of the images ruled out by the judge for opening arguments could be shown at a later time during the trail. For instance, the medical examiner could show talk photos from Murray’s autopsy.

However, the judge expressed concern that the jury could be swayed if shown those photos right at the start of the trial and thus ruled them out for the opening arguments.

Jayna Murray's college roommate Ivy Huang came to court Tuesday. She said her and Murray remained close over the years.

“I hope that something good comes out of it, it’s going to be some time for that and I do grieve not just for my friend's family but as well as the other because it was a horrible thing that happened,” Huang said.

Jury selection in the trial began Monday but proved difficult, partly because the intense media attention on the case made it hard to find impartial jurors to ensure a fair trial.

About 150 potential jurors were asked whether any had already made up their mind. Thirty-eight stood up, essentially a yes-response to the question. Only 18 had never heard of the slaying.

Prosecutors allege the two women argued after closing hours after Murray found suspected stolen merchandise inside Norwood's bag. They say Norwood tried to conceal the killing by telling police the next morning that both women had been attacked inside the shop by two masked men.