CRIME

Brittany Norwood guilty of first-degree murder

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A Montgomery County jury took just about one hour to fine Brittany Norwood, accused of killing her co-worker at the Lululemon yoga store in one of the most high profile murders in Bethesda, guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday.

The murder shocked the area because of the brutality of the March 11 slaying and the twists and turns of the case. Norwood initially portrayed herself as a victim before police discovered holes in her story and arrested her.

“I know the trauma our family has been through I want no other family to go through this,” Jayna's mother Phyllis Murray said.

MORE: "Something seemed odd" at the crime scene, examiner says

Norwood will be sentenced on Jan. 27, 2012, and faces life in prison without parole.

During the six-day trial, the prosecution walked jurors through a brutal attack that left Murray with more than 300 wounds. Norwood used a hammer, a knife, a wrench, a rope and a metal pole in the slaying.

The medical examiner testified that Murray suffered 331 injuries from five different weapons. She said she believes Murray was alive for all of them.

The jury deliberated for about an hour before delivering the verdict. Juror Donny Knepper tells ABC7’s Brad Bell that the evidence was overwhelming.

“What made it such a quick verdict was the number of injuries and where they were sustained and the fact that they were sustained while she was still alive,” Knepper said.

McCarthy delivered an impassioned closing argument, calling Norwood an actress and manipulator.

The defense admitted early on that Norwood was guilty, but tried to convince jurors that she acted in a state of rage without thinking.

Norwood’s lawyer, Douglas Wood, said Norwood lost control and grabbed whatever weapons were within her reach, but argued the crime lacked the premeditation required for a first-degree murder conviction.

Wood tried unsuccessfully during his closing argument to cast doubt by claiming a fight between Norwood and Murray and that Norwood simply "lost it." Norwood's family left court without comment.

"Jayna was killed by Brittany. It occurred in a fight. Brittany Norwood lost it. She lost control,” Wood said earlier during the trial.

Had the jury followed this argument, Norwood could have been convicted of a lesser murder charge that would carry a shorter sentence.

But jurors, after days of detailed forensic testimony that included an analysis of Murray's blood splattered throughout the store and bloody shoeprints found on the floor, weren't swayed. The prosecution stressed the time the crime took to commit and the multitude of weapons used. Under Maryland law, premeditation can happen within moments. 

During closing arguments Wednesday, McCarthy said the forensic evidence proves Norwood committed a premeditated murder.

“Could you begin to even count the number of times she lied?” asked prosecutor John McCarthy during closing statements. "It’s almost impossible.”

McCarthy said Norwood staged the entire crime scene and altered every room of the Lululemon store.

“She had 10 hours to make this scene look the way she wanted," he said.

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