March 25, 2011

Norwood Not Eligible For Death Penalty; "Aggravating Factors" Must Exist, Experts Say

The Lululemon employee accused of killing 30-year-old Jayna Murray in Bethesda March 11 isn’t eligible to receive the death penalty if convicted of the crime, prosecutors have said. While Brittany Norwood, 28, stands charged with first-degree murder, other “aggravating” factors must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the state of Maryland before a defendant receives the death penalty, experts tell Patch.

Police initially said Norwood was the surviving victim of an attack by two masked men at the Bethesda Avenue Lululemon store, but she is now accused of killing Murray, her co-worker.

Prosecutors have said she lied to police and elaborately staged the crime scene to make it appear as though an attack had taken place.

In a Maryland death penalty case, prosecutors need to prove a defendant guilty of first-degree murder and prove one or more “aggravating factors” were present during the crime, said Byron Warnken, a professor of law at the University of Baltimore law school and a practicing criminal defense attorney. Those factors include killing a law enforcement officer, killing multiple victims in the same crime, killing someone in a correctional facility or while attempting to escape from one, hiring another to kill, and others, Warnken said. “Just because someone is convicted of first-degree murder doesn’t make it a death penalty case,” Warnken said. SOURCE: Bethesda Patch

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