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Brittany Norwood appeals yoga store murder conviction

Tuesday - 6/10/2014, 5:49pm  ET

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Brittany Norwood was found guilty of killing Jayna Murray, a co-worker at the Lululemon Athletica shop in Bethesda in 2011. (WTOP file)

WASHINGTON -- Three years after the brutal death of a store employee inside the Lululemon store in Bethesda, her convicted killer is appealing.

Brittany Norwood was found guilty in 2011 of killing co-worker Jayna Murray inside the store, then lying and telling police two masked men attacked them. She was sentenced to life without parole.

Murray had more than 300 distinct wounds and investigators believe she was alive for most of the March 2011 attack. Norwood then tied herself up and told police that two men had attacked the women.

But now, Norwood's attorneys say prosecutors used interviews where police didn't tell Norwood of her right to remain silent and to consult an attorney, according to an appeal of Norwood's 2011 conviction filed Monday.

"Ms. Norwood felt that she needed the detective's permission to terminate the encounter, as evidenced by her continued presence and participation in the interviews despite her clearly and repeatedly expressed desire to leave," wrote Assistant Public Defender Juan P. Reyes in the appeal.

Additionally, her attorneys also say prosecutors improperly presented a police officer's testimony as an expert opinion regarding a knife wound.

Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy says he's been waiting for this appeal.

"Any individual convicted of a crime of the magnitude of the one Miss Norwood was convicted of, always appeals.

However, McCarthy says everything was done properly.

"There was a mountain of evidence against Miss Norwood being involved in this particular crime," says McCarthy regarding the witness testimony, which prosecutors take issue with.

"This was a woman who came to the police station of her own will, came in her family car, came accompanied by family members."

During the trial, prosecutors said Norwood attacked Murray with at least five weapons, including a knife, merchandise peg and a hammer, during a fight March 11 after they closed the shop for the day. They said Norwood lured Murray back to the store by falsely claiming she forgot something inside and needed to be let back in.

Norwood then beat Murray for at least 20 minutes and doctored the scene overnight to support her story that intruders had attacked and sexually assaulted them, prosecutors said.

Murray was found the next morning in a pool of blood at the back of the store. Her wounds included a knife strike to the head that served as the death blow. Norwood was found nearby, moaning in apparent pain and tied up, with superficial and self-imposed wounds on her body. Blood was tracked throughout the store, something detectives later determined Norwood had done to throw them off her trail.

The jury didn't hear a motive for the killing, but McCarthy said Murray had confronted Norwood after finding a pair of stolen pants in Norwood's bag. Norwood feared the shoplifting discovery would cause her to be fired and derail her planned career as a personal trainer, McCarthy said.

WTOP's Michelle Basch and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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