- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Opening arguments in the Lululemon murder trial are expected to begin Wednesday and will include several graphic photos of the crime scene, officials said in court Tuesday.

After moving at a snail’s pace for two days, jury selection for the first-degree murder trial neared a close Tuesday evening with only 65 of the 300-member jury pool instructed to return to the Montgomery County courthouse in the morning.

”In about 30 minutes we should have our jury,” Circuit Judge Robert Greenberg told the room of impatient jurors Tuesday evening.

The 12 jurors and five alternates selected Wednesday morning will decide the fate of Brittany Norwood, the 29-year-old woman accused of brutally bludgeoning co-worker Jayna Murray to death at the Lululemon yoga apparel store in Bethesda on March 11.

Prosecutors and the defense team argued Tuesday about whether gruesome crime scene photos, including those depicting severe injuries to Murray’s face, neck and hands, should be allowed in the opening arguments of State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

“It’s extremely prejudicial to be flashing around these gory photos at the beginning of the trial,” defense attorney Douglas Wood said.

However, Mr. McCarthy argued that the number of wounds to Murray’s body and the wound patterns indicate premeditation on her attacker’s behalf, which would make the difference in a first-degree versus second-degree murder conviction.

While discussing the photos, both sides made mention of a host of items they believe were used against Murray, 30, including a crescent wrench, hammer, rope, mannequin peg and box cutter.

”They are gruesome. There is no other way to put it, but I’m concerned,” Judge Greenberg said. “This jury is immediately going to be disturbed and perhaps emotional upon looking at it.”

Ultimately, Judge Greenberg limited Mr. McCarthy to only four photos, three of the crime scene and one of Murray when she was alive. The crime scene photos include a closely cropped shot of injuries to Murray’s skull and hand, and photos showing the way investigators found both Murray and Miss Norwood inside the Bethesda Row store.

Initially, Miss Norwood told police that she and Murray were attacked and sexually assaulted by two masked men after they closed the store. But her story unraveled as crime-scene evidence and other information failed to substantiate her story, and days after the killing she was charged.