Teen competent for murders trial, in shooting mother, brother at Fauquier Co. home

Levi Norwood, 17, has been found competent to stand trial in Fauquier County, on murder charges in the Feb. 14 shooting deaths of his mother and brother, and wounding of his father, at their home in Midland, Virginia.

“The evaluation has found him competent. We’re not challenging that,” public defender Ryan Ruzic told Circuit Court Judge Douglas Fleming, during a brief hearing, Thursday.

However, Norwood’s lawyer did not reveal whether the same mental health provider believes Norwood was sane on the night he allegedly fatally shot his mother Jennifer, 6-year-old brother  Wyatt and wounded his father Joshua.

Ruzic said he might like to speak with the doctor, “to see if a motion may be warranted.”

The defense has up until 30 days before trial to file a motion announcing it would argue Norwood was not guilty by reason of insanity — the Virginia equivalent to an insanity defense.

Historically, if the mental health provider’s report had opined Norwood was clearly insane at the time of the offense, Ruzic would have likely alerted the judge during Thursday’s hearing.

Barring new information, or a plea offer from prosecutors, Ruzic said he would seek a jury trial, at the next hearing, scheduled for Jan. 7.

After the court hearing, Fauquier County Commonwealth’s Attorney Scott Hook declined to say whether he would be open to plea negotiations with the defense. Prosecutors had successfully argued for the ability to ask a grand jury to charge Norwood as an adult.

As WTOP reported in July, charging documents said Leviathan “Levi” Norwood told his girlfriend, earlier that day, while at school “that he wanted to kill his mother.” The girlfriend also said Norwood was depressed and anxious, and told her he was schizophrenic and would see “shadow people.”

However, before his indictment, a district court judge ruled Norwood was competent to stand trial.

Soon after the shootings, Joshua Norwood told police his son had been depressed and prescribed medication, and that “he and his wife had found text messages on Leviathan’s phone pertaining to committing suicide.”

Norwood was indicted for two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his mother and brother, attempted murder in the wounding of his father, three counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, and grand theft of an automobile. Norwood was caught in North Carolina.

In late April, Joshua Norwood was found dead in the family home. At the time, Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office said there was no indication of foul play.

If convicted, Norwood could face 20 years to life in prison for each murder, and between two and 10 years for attempted murder. Under a new Virginia law, minors are eligible to argue for parole, after serving 20 years in prison.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein reported from Warrenton, Virginia.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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