Prosecutor: Brittany Norwood Stole Merchandise Before Killing Jayna Murray

Murray's wounds from Lululemon shop murder too numerous to count: prosecutors.

March 21, 2011, 7:53 AM

March 21, 2011 — -- Brittany Norwood, the Maryland woman accused of murdering her co-worker in a yoga shop and then staging a fake crime, was in possession of stolen merchandise at the time of the killing, state prosecutors said.

A confrontation between Norwood and 30-year-old Jayna Murray over the stolen merchandise may have led to Murray's death, State Attorney John McCarthy said.

Appearing in a Montgomery County courtroom via video conference, Norwood was ordered to be held without bond.

During the court hearing, new details emerged about the alleged attack. Prosecutors claim the struggle between Norwood and Murray at the Lululemon Athletic shop in Bethesda, Md., may have lasted more than 20 minutes, ABC Affiliate WJLA reported.

The blows to Murray's head were too numerous to count. Her skull was fractured and spinal cord severed by a wound that extended through her neck, WJLA reported.

Norwood was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Murray, her co-worker at the Lululemon Athletica shop.

"The main message that I would send is that we believe very, very strongly in the U.S. justice system and we are going to let the justice system prevail," David Murray, Jayna Murray's father, said.

The parents of Murray said their daughter never mentioned the woman now accused of killing her, Brittany Norwood.

"There were always people that she would have dinner with and go to movies with, but Brittany's name was never mentioned," Phyllis Murray, Jayna Murray's mother, said.

Police discovered the crime scene March 12 at store in Bethesda. Murray was dead and Norwood was bound with her hands tied above her head.

When Murray's brother found out that his sister was dead, he was in Iraq working as an Army attorney.

"I had been told that my sister had been murdered," Hugh Murray said. "It was devastating, it broke me."

Fear spread through the D.C. suburb that a killer was on the loose.

"It's the rumors that kill and it just burns you inside," Phyllis Murray said.

Police say Norwood told them that after closing up the store for the night on March 11, she and Murray, a fellow employee, returned to pick up the wallet she had forgotten at work. Two masked men followed them in, bound them, sexually assaulted them and when Murray resisted, they beat and stabbed her to death, police say Norwood told them.

But Norwood's story apparently didn't add up.

"Almost none of it matched up," former FBI agent Brad Garrett said as he surveyed the scene at Lululemon, where the windows were full of flowers, notes and pictures of Jayna Murray, who police say was murdered in the store.

Medical examiners found no evidence of sexual assault on either victim. Only two sets of footprints were found -- Norwood's, and one from a pair of shoes found at the scene, which police theorized Norwood used to plant false footprints.

"We were able to determine that there were only two sets of footprints at the crime scene, one belonging to Ms. Norwood another belonging to a size 14 shoe that was recovered in the store," Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said.

When Norwood was found by a store employee opening up the next morning, police say the position she was tied in, with her hands bound above her head, was suspicious to police, suggesting she might have fastened the bonds herself.

Murray's car had also been moved, and was spattered with the blood of Norwood, who police say told them her assailants ordered her to re-park the car, which had been outside the store, and return in 10 minutes or be killed.

"As we began analyzing the physical evidence and looked at the medical reports, it was not supporting what Ms. Norwood had told us," Manger said.

Then workers at the Apple Computer store next door told police that on the night of the killing, they heard two women arguing.

A college teammate of Norwood shed some light on her past.

"Other girls on the team told me things like, 'Watch your locker, keep it locked.' She's been known to steal things," Megan Healy said.

The family of Jayna Murray is healing through launching a foundation to remember the adventure-seeking young woman who loved to go bungee jumping.

"One of the most fearless people I've ever known in my life and that's as objective as a father can get. I really admired her for everything she did and everything she represented," David Murray said.

The family has created the Jayna Troxel Murray Foundation to remember Murray's life.

"People have always commented that it was her smile and it was her hugs. Whether she knew you for two seconds or years, those were her greetings. She wanted people tot feel comfortable and happy," Phyllis Murray said.

For more information on the Jayna Troxel Murray Foundation or to send a donation, write or send a check to: The Jayna Troxel Murray Foundation, P.O. Box 9492, The Woodlands, Texas 77387.