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Norwood Guilty Of First-Degree Murder

Verdict takes just an hour in Lululemon slaying

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Brittany Norwood was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing her coworker Jayna Murray.
Montgomery County Police
Brittany Norwood was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing her coworker Jayna Murray.

A jury in Montgomery County has found Brittany Norwood guilty of first-degree murder for killing her co-worker Jayna Murray at a Lululemon yoga boutique in Bethesda in March. The verdict came just an hour after the completion of closing arguments Wednesday.

Murray's family whispered cheers when the verdict was read. One even quietly said, "Yes!" under her breath. Relatives of Norwood burst into tears.

The jury was persuaded by the prosecution's explanation that the murder was premeditated. One juror said that the evidence implicating Norwood was "overwhelming," and that he was particularly swayed by the number of blows that Murray suffered.

In his closing argument Wednesday, State's Attorney John McCarthy grabbed the murder weapon, a peg used to hang merchandise, and beat it against a desk in the court room. He explained that that was how Norwood killed Murray. This echoed the testimony from the medical examiner earlier in the day that Murray had suffered more than 300 wounds, but it was a blow to the neck that ultimately killed her. It was a dramatic punctuation mark to the case, which has been running since last week.

Prosecutors say the two women argued after closing hours when Murray found suspected stolen merchandise inside Norwood's bag. Workers at a neighboring Apple store testified that they heard  two female voices arguing through the wall separating the two stores. Murray sustained "a substantial beating," according to a blood splatter analyst, before she was ultimately killed.

They say Norwood tried to conceal the killing by staging her own attack and telling police that the women had been attacked and tied up inside the shop by two masked men. She became a suspect after her story gradually unraveled during repeated interviews with police, who originally treated her as a victim.

The defense attorney argued that the prosecution never established a proper motive for the crime. He did not dispute that Norwood was the one who killed Murray, but said that Norwood didn't act deliberately, having "lost it" during a heated argument. The defense did not call any witnesses.

Norwood faces sentencing Jan. 27 at 1:30 p.m. The prosecution is seeking a life sentence without possibility of parole.

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