- The Washington Times - Friday, January 27, 2012

A woman convicted of brutally beating and stabbing a coworker to death at the Lululemon Athletica store in Bethesda last year was sentenced on Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert A. Greenberg handed down the sentence to Brittany Norwood shortly before 5 p.m., after hours of emotional testimony during a sentencing hearing in a packed courthouse in Rockville.

“My sympathy for your plight does not begin to approach what I feel for the Murray family,” he said to Norwood. “No matter how long I confine you for, one thing we know is you will live. There will be telephone calls. There will be Christmases. There will be visits. The only visits Jayna Murray will get are to her grave.”

The sentence came after Norwood, who did not testify during her trial, addressed the Murray family.

“I know whatever I say today won’t take the pain away for the loss of Jayna. My hope for your family is that someday you’ll be able to find forgiveness in your heart. I am truly sorry,” she said through tears. In her remarks, she never actually admitted to killing Murray.

Norwood, 29, was convicted in November of bludgeoning and stabbing 30-year-old Jayna Murray to death in the back room of the high-end yoga apparel store on Bethesda Row after they had finished a work shift together in March.

The exceptionally brutal murder — which left 331 identifiable wounds on Murray’s body — coupled with Norwood’s elaborate cover-up story grabbed headlines for months and made for a dramatic storyline that could rival many crime dramas.

After the murder, which Norwood’s defense attorney argued was the result of his client having “lost it” during the argument, the woman staged the gruesome crime scene to make it appear as if she had been tortured and raped alongside Murray. Norwood told detectives two men attacked the pair as they closed the store.

While a life sentence was all but assured, the only outstanding question was whether the judge would leave open the possibility that Norwood could someday be paroled.

Norwood, 29, herself asked the judge to consider such a possibility.

“I understand I’ll be severely sentenced for the crime I’ve been convicted of,” she said. “I don’t even ask this for myself. I truly ask this for my family, especially my mom and dad.”

State’s Attorney John McCarthy said parole should not be a consideration and expressed satisfaction with the judge’s decision.

“As a result of that sentence, Ms. Norwood will die in jail,” he said after the hearing.

Several members of Murray’s family similarly requested that the judge not consider parole and spoke during the hearing about Murray and what her loss has meant to them.

“She embraced right and in the end she defended right,” said the victim’s father, David Murray, referencing a confrontation over stolen yoga pants that is thought to have precipitated the fatal encounter.

After the sentencing, he said the family would continue to look for “the new normal” of life without Jayna.

Norwood’s attorney, Douglas Wood, said an appeal of his client’s sentence is likely.

The Norwood family, who sat through the emotionally charged hearing in support of Brittany, were glad to have the ordeal finished, Mr. Wood said.

“I know Brittany’s glad it’s over,” he said.

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