March 28, 2011

The Lululemon Whydunnit

bad gamblers play not to lose


An employee at an upscale Maryland yoga clothing shop is accused of killing a co-worker who found suspected stolen merchandise in her bag, then trying to conceal the crime by tying herself up and blaming the attack on two masked men.

[Prosecutor] McCarthy said Brittany Norwood, 28, spun an elaborate ruse to convince authorities that she and the dead woman, Jayna Murray, had been attacked inside the Lululemon Athletica shop in Bethesda where they worked.

Terrible and tragic and etc, but at least intelligible, a linear internal logic.  Norwood is stealing, gets caught by coworker and now has to make a decision: fold and lose everything, or go all in on one last hand and maybe get out of this.

That's the gamble: is it worth a life, is it worth going to jail forever, to get out of a retail theft charge?  It is if it works, I guess. 


When you read enough news reports, you get to understand the code words.  [Murder AND  "upscale neighborhood"] always means domestic homicide (usually murder-suicide) or "non-white."  Google it if you don't believe me.

The codes aren't conscious attempts to communicate unspeakable info to the reader, they are unconscious manifestations of the retinas of the writers.  It's how they see the world, and after a while, you can tell how they see it by how they describe it.

"Make a left at the traffic light."  "Make a left at the strip bar."  Two different people.

So unless the two women were dating, this upscale neighborhood killing means one of them is going to be black or Asian.  I leave the rest as an exercise for the reader.


When Norwood was found the morning of March 12 inside the shop, she told police that she and Murray, 30, had been sexually assaulted by two masked men who came in the previous night after closing time. Norwood was found with minor scratches and other wounds, her hands and feet bound.
Trouble is, when they examine the women, there are no signs of rape.  A week later they figure out it was Norwood.

[Prosecutor] McCarthy offered new details about what happened before Murray died, saying she had been asked by a store manager to check Norwood's bag for stolen merchandise. Murray called the manager that night to say she believed Norwood had been stealing.

That same night, after the store had closed, Norwood told Murray she needed to get back into the store because she left her wallet. When the two returned, they argued over the suspected theft, McCarthy said.

Norwood then picked up some sort of weapon inside the store and used it to beat Murray for as long as 20 minutes throughout the shop, McCarthy said. He said Murray sustained a severed spinal cord and blows "too numerous to count."

Oh, ok, it's this movie plot.  Norwood didn't kill Murray to prevent her identity from being exposed, because Murray had already turned her in to the manager.   Norwood killed her later that night.   Now it becomes a revenge story.   Still terrible, but at least it makes sense.  Revenge taken as murder, and then Norwood stages the scene and concocts a story about masked men to trick everyone.  So she's no longer going for four aces, she's trying to bluff.  It's a longshot, but no one would wonder why you tried it.



When Norwood was found the morning of March 12 inside the shop...

-------except rather than leaving the store, rather than staging it as a robbery/murder and then getting the hell out of there so that no one would even think about her, Norwood stayed behind and pretended to have been a victim, too.  She stayed there all night until the manager came to open the store the next morning.

That's not the behavior of someone trying to get away with something, that's the behavior of someone who wants to pretend to be someone else: I'm a victim.  She thinks she can win, as long as she can trick you into going easy on her.

That's called a hustle, trying to convince seasoned players that you're someone that you're not.  And when it fails, you get in a lot more trouble than if you just folded early and come back to play another day.  Trouble is, hustlers don't hustle to win, they hustle because they don't know any other way to live.