Just before being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Friday afternoon, Jan. 27, 2012, Brittany Norwood gave a tearful apology to the family of the woman she has been convicted of murdering.
Dressed in a pink blouse, a black blazer and a pearl necklace, Norwood stood and addressed the Murray family, seated in the second row of a packed courtroom.
She haltingly started her statement by saying she had considered whether she should say anything at all.
“For the Murray family—what do I say when your daughter’s gone and I’m the one convicted of her murder? I know what I say today won’t take the pain away over the loss of Jayna,” she said.
Norwood said she was “deeply sorry” for the March 11 crime, during which prosecutors say she cut, stabbed, and bludgeoned her co-worker Jayna Murray, 30, more than 330 times in downtown Bethesda’s Lululemon shop.
“I hope for the Murray family, someday you’ll be able to find forgiveness in your heart,” she said. “I am truly sorry.”
The sentence capped an afternoon of emotional testimony and marked the end of a Prosecutors say Norwood doctored the crime scene at the shop and lied to police, saying the two women were attacked and sexually assaulted by two masked men—leaving the Bethesda community in fear. But Norwood’s tale quickly unraveled, and she was arrested and charged with the murder less than a week later.
Judge Robert A. Greenberg rejected Norwood’s plea for a sentence that would allow for Norwood the possibility of parole and as she said, “leave me with some hope.”
"I am exceedingly reluctant to grant you even the slightest chance of doing this to another member of the community,” Greenberg said.
The Murray family clapped and sighed with relief as the judge read his sentence.
“On several different levels this case exemplified the worst of human behavior,” Greenberg said, from the “cold-blooded, calculated” way Norwood committed the crime, to the “callous indifference of the people who worked at the Apple Store who heard this happening and didn’t do a blessed thing.”
“Most of us can only shake our heads in amazement, wonderment and disgust,” he said.
Greenberg pounded his fist on the dais several times, telling Norwood that while he was considering her sentence, he repeated the action 330 times—taking him eight minutes—in an attempt to gauge how long the attack took.
Norwood mutilated Murray’s body and once the attack began, he said she “reveled in the gore.”
“After every blow, you had a chance to think about what you were doing,” Greenberg said.
As Norwood attempted to cover up the crime, she was “devious, in control, totally on top of the situation, while you lied to try to get out of what you had done,” Greenberg told Norwood, as she cried.
“You are one hell of a liar, ma’am,” he said.
A person who could commit such a crime stands “very little chance of being rehabilitated,” Greenberg said.
Throughout the afternoon Friday, friends and family members of Jayna Murray read statements before the court detailing the devastating impact her loss has had on their lives. Greenberg watched as childhood photos of Jayna were displayed on an overhead projector. Also played in court was a YouTube video, showing the young woman bungee jumping to celebrate her 30th birthday.
“I miss Jayna more than I can express in words,” said her father, David. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her as she was … she was more than a daughter. She was one of my four best friends.”
Family and friends stood to describe the pain, anger, and despair they’ve struggled with since learning the news of Jayna’s murder March 12.
“March 12, 2011, was my family’s Sept. 11, 2001,” said Jayna’s brother, Hugh. “Nothing will ever be normal. Nothing will ever be the same.”
Jayna’s longtime boyfriend, Fraser Bocell, described looking at engagement rings and planning to propose to Jayna. Having already obtained her parents permission, Bocell said, the couple was only waiting out the few short months left before Jayna finished her degree and could move to the Pacific Northwest to be together to make the engagement official.
“This act has done more than take away an amazing, beautiful woman from this world,” Bocell said. “All of my plans for the future were shattered and laid bare on that day.”
Jayna’s brother Dirk Murray and his wife April detailed the impact of the loss of their “Tia T” on their two young sons. “We draw pictures and we write notes and we burn them, so they can rise in the smoke up to heaven,” Dirk Murray said.
Rather than checking the closet for boogeymen before bed, Dirk Murray said, his boys check for Brittany Norwood.
Family and friends implored the judge to sentence Norwood to life without parole, arguing that Norwood is beyond rehabilitation and would pose a threat to the community should she ever be freed.
“Brittany Norwood should not be shown mercy, for she showed Jayna none on March 11, 2011,” Jayna’s sister-in-law, Kate, told the judge. Norwood, she said, is “entirely devoid of a conscience.”
Also standing before the court Friday was Brittany Norwood’s brother, Andre.
Andre Norwood spoke of his family’s continuing love and support for his sister Brittany, and said she was portrayed during the trial as someone unworthy of compassion.
“I know a different person than the one brought out at trial,” he said.
In his statement, Andre Norwood asked Greenberg to grant his sister the possibility of parole.
“She should have to pay the penalty for her conviction. Brittany has accepted that, and so have I,” he said. However, he said Greenberg’s sentence should “reflect that Brittany is a person worthy of compassion, worthy of rehabilitation, and maybe at some point, redemption.”
Following the sentencing, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy spoke to the media, calling Greenberg’s sentence “fair, just, and appropriate.”
“As a result of that sentence, Ms. Norwood will die in jail,” McCarthy said.
When asked by reporters his response to Norwood’s apology, David Murray said, “It’s too little, too late. It’s the first time we’ve seen any apology, any remorse, anything at all from Brittany Norwood.”
He said the apology was a “last ditch effort to shorten the length of her sentence.”
Also following the sentencing, Norwood’s lawyer Doug Wood told the media he believes Norwood’s apology was sincere. Wood has maintained Norwood as she attacked Murray, and didn’t pre-mediate the killing.
He said he plans to appeal the ruling.
See how the sentencing unfolded:
Update, 5:46 p.m.: Brittany Norwood's attorney Douglas Wood said that she is "very sorry."
But State's Attorney John McCarthy said when Norwood spoke in court Friday during her sentencing, she did not take responsibility, only saying she was convicted of Jayna's murder.
"In her mind she knows she did this, but in her mind it's too difficult to say," Wood said.
"I don't think she wanted to put her family through this anymore," Wood added, saying that both families have lost a great deal.
Although Norwood was found guilty of killing , her family was hoping she would have a chance for parole.
Wood said they will appeal the sentence.
Update, 5:25 p.m.: Jayna Murray's family spoke after the sentencing of their daughter's convicted killer Brittany Norwood outside the Montgomery County Circuit Courthouse Friday.
"We are all reaching for a new normal," Jayna's father, David Murray said in a press conference. "It was absolutely the right sentence under Maryland law."
Jayna's mother Phyllis said she still cannot accept aspects of her daughter's death.
"Jayna does not want us to shed a tear, she wants us to drive on with the goals she would have had," Phyllis Murray said. "Our loss is permanent."
State's Attorney John McCarthy thanked Montgomery County Police for their quick investigation in March 2011 and also thanked the community for their support.
Update, 5:06 p.m.: Prior to her sentencing Friday, convicted killer Brittany Norwood apologized to Jayna Murray's family.
"I am truly sorry," Norwood said, while she cried, "What do I say when your daughter is gone and I'm the one convicted in her murder?"
She added, "I hope someday you'll be able to find forgiveness in your heart."
But Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert A. Greenberg was reluctant to accept the apology.
"You're one hell of a liar, ma'am," Greenberg said. "I am exceedingly reluctant to grant you even the slightest chance of doing this to another member of the community."
After the hearing, Murray's family hugged in the lobby of the courthouse in Rockville.
A live press conference will begin at 5:15 p.m.
Original Post, 4:53 p.m.: Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert A. Greenberg has sentenced Brittany Norwood to life without parole after only one day in court.
The woman in downtown Bethesda's Lululemon shop learned her fate after an afternoon of testimony Friday.
Prosecutors say Norwood lied to police and elaborately staged the crime scene to make it appear as though the two women were attacked by two masked men, leaving downtown Bethesda residents and businesses fearful in the wake of the crime.
Prosecutors and Murray's family have saying she has shown no remorse, is beyond rehabilitation and is a threat to the community.
In statements, Norwood's family has argued at a chance at parole for their daughter.