March 11, 2011
Bethesda, Maryland
Jayna Murray (30, pictured) is killed by her co-worker, 29-year-old Brittany Norwood

Murray and Norwood worked together at a Lululemon store, an athletics apparel retailer known for their high-end yoga pants. According to prosecutors during trial, an argument arose between Norwood and Murray after allegations of shoplifting were raised by Murray. This theory was supported by the testimony of another employee who stated Norwood was “known to steal things.” The argument escalated and became violent, with Norwood attacking Murray with any tool which could make for a convenient weapon.

During the attack, Norwood used a metal bar from a merchandising rack, a hammer, a wrench, a knife, a piece of rope, and a peg used to hold up a mannequin display. Murray suffered at least 331 wounds, 107 of which were defensive. Murray’s skull was fractured and her spinal cord severed by a wound penetrating her neck.

After Murray was dead, Norwood cut her pants to suggest sexual assault, threw items around the shop to appear as though it had been ransacked during a robbery, put on a pair of men’s shoes belonging to the shop to track footprints in the blood, cut herself, restrained her wrists and ankles with zip ties, and waited.

The women were found the next morning. Norwood claimed she and Murray had returned to the store after close to retrieve a wallet one had left behind, and the co-workers were attacked by two masked men. Both were raped, she continued to claim, before Murray was killed and Norwood was bound.

Norwood was initially treated as a surviving victim though inconsistencies in her story quickly led to her being considered a suspect. There was no evidence of trauma to suggest either woman had been sexually assaulted, the wounds Norwood received were superficial and appeared to be self-inflicted (she had parallel slices across her midsection), and the only footprints in the shop belonged to either her own shoes or the men’s shoes belonging to the store. Additionally, Norwood was asked if she had ever been in Murray’s car. She claimed she had not until investigators confronted her with evidence showing her blood was inside Murray’s car. Norwood changed her story to claim the men ordered her to move the car and return to the store, a command which she followed without attempting to summon help. Based on the blood evidence and inconsistent stories, Norwood was charged with Murray’s murder.

The defense attempted to prove Norwood had killed Murray in a sudden fit of rage, rather than any sort of premeditation, citing her “inept” ability to conceal the crime. The differential of planning distinguishes the two charges and would reduce the charge from first-degree murder to second-degree. In Maryland, a second-degree murder conviction holds a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison while murder in the first-degree can carry a term of life imprisonments without the possibility of parole. The jury took 21 minutes to find Norwood guilty of first-degree murder, and she was sentenced to life without parole.

Sources:
Morse, Dan. “Md. officials: Killer of Lululemon co-worker doesn’t deserve new trial.” Washington Post. January 21, 2015. Accessed: March 11, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/md-officials-yoga-store-killer-brittany-norwood-doesnt-deserve-new-trial/2015/01/21/da57ea86-a0d0-11e4-903f-9f2faf7cd9fe_story.html
Morse, Dan. “Brittany Norwood ‘lost control’ in attack on Jayna Murray in yoga store, defense says.” Washington Post. October 26, 2011. Accessed: March 11, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/brittany-norwood-lost-control-in-attack-on-jayna-murray-in-yoga-store-defense-says/2011/10/26/gIQAFaGHKM_story.html
Canning, Andrea and Hopper, Jessica. “Prosecutor: Brittany Norwood Stole Merchandise Before Killing Jayna Murray.” ABC News. March 21, 2011. Accessed: March 11, 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/US/maryland-yoga-shop-killing-brittany-norwood-stolen-merchandise/story?id=13183233
Persinko, Tim and Ward, Derrick. “Bethesda Murder Suspect’s Account Contradicted by Evidence.” NBC Washington. March 19, 2011. Updated: March 20, 2011. Accessed: March 11, 2020. https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/dc-bethesda-murder-suspects-account-contradicted-by-evidence/1913797/%3famp
“Brittany Norwood arrested in Lululemon murder case (photo).” WJLA. March 19, 2011. Accessed: March 11, 2020. https://wjla.com/amp/news/crime/co-worker-is-arrested-in-lululemon-murder-56780

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