Reporting Mike Hellgren
BETHESDA, Md. (WJZ)– The crime stunned people throughout the region. A woman was brutally murdered inside a popular athletics shop and her co-worker was eventually charged. Now jury selection is underway.
Mike Hellgren explains why this could take several days.
This case gained notoriety, not only because of its brutality but also because of the astounding cover-up, what prosecutors call the defendant’s “web of lies.” More than 85 percent of the potential jurors said that they had seen or read media coverage about this case.
Jayna Murray’s spine was severed, her skull was crushed and blood covered the floor of the posh yoga outfitter Lululemon in downtown Bethesda. That’s where prosecutors say her co-worker Brittany Norwood killed her last March after Murray confronted her about stealing some clothes.
“My immediate reaction was, `Thank God.’ Then when he said who it was, it was incomprehensible,” said Jayna’s mother, Phyllis Murray.
Norwood looked calm and put together in court, her hair slicked back in a bun—far different from her mug shot. She watched as lawyers sifted through 150 potential jurors. Twelve will decide whether she’s guilty of first-degree murder.
“Jayna did in fact call her store manager to report what she thought had been a theft. That’s what’s stated in open court; beyond that, I’m not going to speculate,” said State’s Attorney John McCarthy.
Norwood concocted a bizarre cover-up. Police say she tied herself up and cut herself and claimed two masked men broke into the store, attacked and sexually assaulted her and Murray. But police say the evidence pointed straight at Norwood.
Norwood was expected to use an insanity defense, but her lawyers decided against that. It’s unclear what their strategy is now.
Prosecutors plan to use taped interviews to show her changing story, as well as experts in blood spatter and DNA evidence.
Murray’s family say they have faith in the justice system.
“Of all of the steps of grieving, I have yet to leave anger. I think if I had a chance to say something to her, it would be one word: why?” said David Murray, Jayna’s father.
In covering this up, prosecutors say Norwood walked around the store in bloody, size 14 shoes that were used for alterations. The jury selection will continue Tuesday.
Murray attended Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, where she was working on her MBA.