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Lululemon Murder Trial Opening Statements Expected; Brittany Norwood Accused Of Killing Jayna Murray

7:54 AM, Oct 26, 2011   |    comments
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Video: 2nd Day Of Jury Selection Begins In Lululemon Murder Trial

Video: Jury Selection By The Numbers

  • Brittany Norwood was found guilty of first degree murder of co-worker Jayna Murray at the Lululemon Athletica store in Bethesda, Nov. 3, 2011.
    

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA) -- Opening statements are expected in the Lululemon Bethesda murder trial Wednesday in a Rockville courtroom.

Tuesday, jury selection resumed in a murder trial for a woman charged with killing a co-worker in a yoga clothing shop in Bethesda. Sixty five prospective jurors have been asked to return to court Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. The jury should be seated by late morning, reports Andrea McCarren. Opening statements are likely to follow late morning or early afternoon.

Brittany Norwood is accused of fatally bludgeoning co-worker ayna Murray in March inside the Lululemon Athletica shop.

SEE FAMILY PHOTOS OF JAYNA MURRAY

Police say Norwood attacked Murray back in March, after she was caught taking clothing from the Lululemon Athletica clothing store in Bethesda, where she was an employee.

Then, police say, Norwood staged an elaborate crime scene inside the store and claimed both she and Murray had been attacked by two men.

Norwood was treated like a victim for nearly a week, while police tried to follow leads in the story she told. As her story changed, so did detectives' view of Norwood as a victim. She was arrested a week after the murder and charged as the prime suspect in the case. 

Norwood's attorney says she's mentally ill and is unfit to stand trial. A judge knocked down that theory and scheduled the trial to start Monday. 

Monday, 300 potential jurors were summoned to Courtroom 1 at Montgomery County Circuit Court. 150 of them were called at 9:30 a.m. while 150 were called at 1:30 p.m., reported Andrea McCarren. A normal jury pool is 60-100 people.

Potential jurors filled out a preliminary questionnaire to ensure they are qualified to sit for the trial. They had to be a U.S. citizens and fluent in English. Jurors for whom English is second language and feel it would hinder ability to understand trial spoke with the judge one by one.

In the courtroom Monday, potential jurors were asked if they know judge, lawyers, witnesses, or the defendant. Only 18 people in jury pool of 149 stood up to indicate they had NOT heard of the Lululemon murder case. Roughly 3/4 of the jury pool stood up when asked if an 8 to 10 day trial would be a hardship. Every juror who stood up for any answer was called into judge's chambers individually, which is highly unusual, noted 9 News Now's Andrea McCarren.

Then, the first jury pool went on break. The judge was still asking preliminary questions before calling them into his chambers. Jury selection may last days, reported Andrea McCarren.

During more questioning, potential jurors were asked if they had already formed an opinion of guilt or innocence. 38 of them said yes. Prospective jurors were also asked if they or family member had been a victim of crime, witness to a crime or convicted of a crime. 3/4 of the prospective jurors stood up to indicate yes.

Ten of 149 prospective jurors said the graphic nature of some of the evidence would not allow them to be impartial. The prosecution wants to show the jury 3 photos of Jayna Murray: two in life and one of how she was found at the crime scene. According to Andrea McCarren, the prosecution wants to show the jury autopsy photos of Jayna Murray, including one of her hand and one of her shattered skull. They also plan to introduce evidence of rope at the crime scene, as well as burns on Murray's neck. The defense has objected to the graphic nature of the Jayna Murray photos and fear they will be prejudicial.

Around 4 p.m., 5 of the 149 prospective jurors were dismissed-- all appeared to be from a group with limited English abilities, reported Andrea McCarren.

Then, Judge Greenberg admonished prospective jurors awaiting an interview in his chamber for reading after one juror was caught reading the Washington Post.

Around 4:40 p.m. on Monday, Andrea McCarren tweeted: "Jury pool #1 excused for day. Told to return at 9:15 am tomorrow. Only one more juror excused for total of 6 out of 150."

Judge Robert Greenberg was to consider the prosecution's photos overnight and report back in the morning to defense and prosecution. On Tuesday, Greenberg ruled that some graphic photos of victim Jayna Murray WILL be allowed in opening statements depicting hand and head injuries, reported Andrea McCarren.

Tuesday, jury pool #1 (or the remaining 144) reported to court at 9:15 a.m. Jury pool #2 (another 150 people) was expected to report at noon. Andrea McCarren reported that the judge would allow prospective jurors who were waiting for hours to be interviewed to read, but they could not read newspapers or books about crime. They were also allowed to have water but no electronics.

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, only 80 of the 144 jurors in pool #1 had been interviewed in the judge's chambers. Andrea McCarren reported that the first prospective juror's interview lasted 15 minutes.

The prosecution will get to strike 10 jurors while the defense will get to strike 20. It is possible to select 17 people from this jury pool (12 jurors and 5 alternates). Judge, defense and prosecution were still interviewing members of jury pool #1 around 3:30 p.m. Thirteen of the prospective jurors have said health issues preclude them from serving.

Around 4 p.m. Tuesday, Judge Greenberg said he was close to "his number" (64) for a jury panel from which to draw jurors.

In the end, they will have to decide whether Norwood is guilty or not guilty of killing Murray. If she is found guilty, they will have to decide whether it was first or second degree murder.

First degree murder generally requires either premeditation or is done while committing another felony (like rape or robbery). A first degree murder conviction carries a sentence of life without possibility of parole. A second degree murder conviction carries 30 years of incarceration.

It is unclear whether the defense will try to argue that the murder was in self-defense.

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