Two autopsy photos of Jayna Murray are “too gruesome” for jurors to see during opening arguments in the murder trial against Brittany Norwood, who is accused of beating her coworker to death, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday.
State’s Attorney John J. McCarthy sought to show four photos of 36 taken during Murray's autopsy. The photos show wounds to Murray's hands and skull and illustrate that as many as eight weapons might have been used in the attack, including a hammer and a rope, which was found around Murray’s neck the morning of March 12, McCarthy argued.
Judge Robert A. Greenberg ruled that two photos cannot be shown during the opening statement because “I am very concerned that looking at this larger-than-life projection of this that the jury is likely to be disturbed and emotional" and unlikely to listen to the rest of the trial, he said.
Greenberg ruled that two photos from the autopsy can be shown. One must be in black and white and the other can be shown in color.
All four photos may be allowed later in the trial, Greenberg said.
In addition, McCarthy will be allowed to show two photos of how Murray and Norwood were found at the crime scene. A photo of one of the 107 defensive wounds found on Murray's body and one other photo of a wound can be shown.
Murray, 30, was found beaten and stabbed in the upscale Bethesda Row clothing store on the morning of March 12. Norwood, 29, of Washington, D.C., was found wounded, bound at the wrists and ankles and had blood covering her face. Norwood told police she and Murray were beaten by two masked men, but she later became the suspect in the case.
She is charged with first-degree murder.
Norwood’s attorney Douglas Wood filed the motion asking the judge to keep the photos from being displayed during opening arguments because the prosecution could adequately describe the images. He argued that showing the photos so early in the trial would have too much influence on the jury.
Three hundred potential jurors were called to the courthouse Monday morning.
A first group of about 150 jurors was questioned Monday and Tuesday. Sixty-five potential jurors were selected Tuesday and will be narrowed to a 12-person jury and five alternates before noon on Wednesday, Greenberg said.
Of the 65 remaining potential jurors, 11 said in open court that they had never heard of the case. Nearly all of the 150 people in the pool answered additional questions in the judge's chambers.
Potential jurors are barred from watching television, listening to the radio, reading newspapers and going online.
The trial is expected to last 10 days.