- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In the days after the Bethesda Lululemon store slaying, police grew less apt to accept the vague descriptions provided by the survivor of what they thought was a savage attack. And as detectives pressed Brittany Norwood for details, her story began to unravel.

On Tuesday, jurors in Ms. Norwood’s first-degree-murder trial watched the 29-year-old fumble for answers in a videotaped police interview conducted a week after her co-worker, Jayna Murray, was found brutally slain inside the store.

In the tape, Ms. Norwood admits to leaving the Bethesda Row store to move Murray’s car at the request of her attackers — a detail she left out of her previous accounts until after police asked whether she had ridden in Murray’s car. At that point, blood had been found in the car but police had not identified the source.

“People would probably ask why you didn’t drive off,” said Montgomery County police Detective Jim Drewry, of the 10 minutes when Ms. Norwood said she was free from the men who had already beat her and Murray and cut the crotch of her pants.

“Because I was scared for my life. Because I knew they knew where I lived,” Ms. Norwood cried back, her voice tight. “I was scared for my life. That’s all I can tell you.”

Just hours after the interview concluded, Detective Drewry arrested Ms. Norwood for the crime. She is accused of brutally slaying Murray, 30, during a fight inside the yoga-apparel store where they worked, then doctoring the crime scene to make it appear as though two men had sexually assaulted her and killed Murray.

In the interview, conducted March 18 at Ms. Norwood’s request, she claimed her attackers made her put on a hat and sent her on an errand through the shopping district to move Murray’s car.

“They seemed to know where it was parked. They said if I was to pass anyone and open my mouth I’d be dead,” Ms. Norwood said in the interview. “I remember seeing a cop but being to scared even to flag him down.”

Detective Drewry questioned whether anyone on the street seemed to notice Ms. Norwood, who described being beaten and bloody when she went to the car.

“Did they look at you funny like, whoa, what are you doing all bloody?” he asked. “It is Bethesda with a black girl with blood all over her.”

“I don’t know if they saw,” Ms. Norwood said.

In addition to Detective Drewry, Murray’s mother and a footprint analyst also testified Tuesday.

Phyllis Murray identified her daughter’s car, cellphone and coat for the jury, and said Jayna Murray was “very athletic.”

The last of the prosecution’s witnesses, a medical examiner, will testify Wednesday. Defense attorney Douglas Wood wouldn’t say whether he plans to call any witnesses but said the trial will finish Wednesday.

After going over jury deliberation instructions in Judge Robert Greenberg’s chambers, State’s Attorney John McCarthy said the jury will rule on both first- and second-degree murder.

Mr. Wood 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. However, they have been barred from bringing up a potential motive for the killing, as Judge Greenberg has excluded testimony based on reports that Murray confronted Ms. Norwood about a pair of yoga pants she thought Ms. Norwood stole.

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