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Detective doubted Norwood in Lululemon slaying

Takes stand in trial

- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2011

The suspects initially described by Brittany Norwood as the attackers in the Lululemon Athletica store slaying were just too malicious to be believable, a Montgomery County Police detective testified Monday in court about the first time he started doubting the defendant's story.

"It was like a movie. You may find one guy who is that evil, but two guys? That is rare," said Detective Dimitry Ruvin, recounting the elaborate cover-up story Ms. Norwood provided police. "We are dealing with, and these were my words, 'two crazy Columbine-type kids or this is not real.'"

The first-degree murder trial entered its second week Monday with testimony from police and DNA and blood-spatter experts.

Ms. Norwood is accused of brutally slaying co-worker Jayna Murray, 30, during a fight inside the Bethesda Row store where they worked, then doctoring the crime scene to make it appear as though two men had sexually assaulted her and killed Murray.

Ms. Norwood's defense attorney has admitted his client killed Murray but denies the attack was planned.

Prosecutors say the defendant lured Murray back to the store after closing with the intention of killing her.

Attorneys are preparing for closing arguments in the case Wednesday.

"When we were interviewing her, she seemed very credible," Detective Ruvin said, recalling he and his partner first met Ms. Norwood two days after the gruesome discovery inside the store. "She was crying; she was shaking. It was very difficult to listen to her."

However, during the interview at her D.C. apartment, Ms. Norwood, 29, offered information that unraveled her initial account and led to her being charged.

Police had found a pair of size-14 men's sneakers inside the store that matched footprints in the blood surrounding Murray's body.

"We thought the suspects brought the shoes in," Detective Ruvin said.

But in their interview, Ms. Norwood described the shoes and where they were found, stating the store used them for customers.

Even as police grew wary of Ms. Norwood's account, they continued to search for the two masked men she described.

By coincidence, an outdoor surveillance camera at the neighboring Apple Store captured images of two men in all black walking quickly away from the rear of the Lululemon store about an hour after the March 11 slaying.

More than 300 tips also came pouring in to police, with people describing a man who was known to hang out at a bar near the store and had a history of acting aggressively with women. The man had not been seen in the days after Murray's death, arousing suspicion, Detective Ruvin said.

Police eventually learned the man had been hospitalized, claiming to be in a fight, and went to visit him at Washington Adventist Hospital, thinking they possibly had their guy. After meeting the man, who said he was homeless and schizophrenic, "he seemed like an unlikely suspect," Detective Ruvin said.

During additional testimony Monday, a blood-spatter analyst said that blood patterning in the narrow back hallway where Murray's body was found is "fairly typical of a severe beating."

"Most of the blows to Murray's head came after she was already on the ground," said analyst William Vosburgh.

While jurors were out of the Rockville courtroom, prosecutors argued to include additional evidence in the case, previously denied by the judge, including information they thought would establish a motive in the slaying.

Prosecutors previously said the fight between the two women touched off when Murray questioned whether Ms. Norwood had stolen a pair of yoga pants from the store.

"We felt it was relevant," State's Attorney John McCarthy said.

However, Judge Robert A. Greenberg again decided to exclude that information from the trial. He also decided jurors would not hear about DNA from semen found on Ms. Norwood.

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