ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — Investigators failed to discuss a suspect’s right to remain silent during several meetings before she was charged with killing a co-worker at an upscale yoga clothing shop in suburban Washington, defense lawyers said in a motion seeking to have her statements kept out of an upcoming trial.
Brittany Norwood, 29, is charged with killing Jayna Murray in March inside the Lululemon Athletica shop in Bethesda.
Norwood told officers who arrived at the store the following morning that she and Murray had been attacked by two masked men and sexually assaulted. Police initially treated Norwood as a rape victim after finding her tied up inside the store, but detectives alleged soon after that her wounds were self-inflicted, that she had tied herself up and that she had staged the scene to conceal the crime.
Prosecutors say the women argued after closing time on March 11 after Murray searched Norwood’s bag, apparently on suspicion that Norwood had been stealing merchandise from the store. Authorities believe Norwood bludgeoned Murray, 30, to death, then tracked her blood throughout the store.
Norwood’s attorneys argue in new court filings that a judge should suppress a series of statements Norwood made to
investigators after Murray’s death. They describe five separate interviews Norwood gave to police — twice at the hospital, once at her home, and twice more at police headquarters — between Murray’s death and Norwood’s arrest on March 18.
They say that it was only during the fifth and final interview that police attempted to read Norwood her rights. The attorneys say Norwood should have been given her Miranda rights much earlier since detectives had quickly zeroed in on her as the primary suspect.
“She was the only suspect in the death of Jayna Murray and had been the only suspect from the beginning of the police
investigation,” the attorneys wrote.
The lawyers, Douglas Wood and Christopher Griffiths, did not immediately return a phone message Tuesday.
Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of life without parole if Norwood is convicted of first-degree murder. The trial in
Montgomery County Circuit Court is scheduled for Oct. 24, but Norwood’s attorneys are seeking more time so they can prepare for a possible insanity defense.
They say they’re consulting with a forensic psychiatrist and are delving into Norwood’s social, educational and medical background in hopes of proving that she’s too mentally ill to be criminally responsible.
Seth Zucker, a spokesman for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s office, said Tuesday that prosecutors are working on a response.
A hearing on the filings and other motions is scheduled for Sept. 2.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)