Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Norwood case appears headed for October trial

Lawyers for Brittany Norwood, the 29-year-old accused of killing her co-worker inside a Bethesda yoga store, did not file an insanity plea in the case on Monday, the day a judge had set as a deadline.

Over the past month, Norwood's counsel appeared to be leaning toward an insanity defense in the high-profile case. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert A. Greenberg had imposed a deadline of Monday for her lawyers to file such a plea. But nothing was submitted in the Montgomery Circuit courthouse by the close of business, according to online filings and courthouse sources.

"No papers were filed today," added another source close to the defense. The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the case is pending, said that no papers would be filed later in the evening.

That means Norwood's murder trial remains on schedule to begin Oct. 24, according to online court records.

Detectives say that on a Friday night in March, Norwood murdered her coworker, Jayna Murray, 30, inside the Lululemon Athletica store, then injured herself, tied herself up and told the police it was all the work of two masked men.

In court papers last month, Norwood's lawyers, Christopher Griffiths and Douglas Wood, wrote that they were exploring an insanity defense, known in Maryland as NCR, or Not Criminally Responsible.

"Counsel believe that an NCR defense is warranted, and an NCR plea is likely," the lawyers wrote.

Other attorneys who are not involved in the case but have followed it closely have said that NCR would be a challenge. Under Maryland rules, NCR holds that because of a mental disorder or mental retardation, a suspect may lack the capacity to appreciate that his or her conduct was illegal or may lack the capacity to "conform that conduct to the requirements of law," according to statutory definitions. If a defendant is found Not Criminally Responsible, he or she may be committed to a secure, psychiatric institution.

Norwood went to college, and Greenberg himself remarked in court this month how intelligent she is.

Additionally, the whole case against her revolves around a cover-up that police and prosecutors say Norwood concocted, which is seen by observers as an indication that she knew she'd done something illegal.

By Dan Morse and Ruben Castaneda

Source: The Washington Post

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