Missing psychiatric reports delay plea for Va. teen charged in shooting mother, brother

Levi Norwood was scheduled to walk into a Fauquier County, Virginia, courtroom on Thursday and either enter a plea or schedule a trial for allegedly killing his mother and brother and wounding his father last year at their home in Midland.

However, Norwood’s public defender told a judge he had not been provided with the results of all the tests taken, during Norwood’s second court-ordered psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he was sane at the time of the shooting.

Norwood was 17 when police say he killed his mother, Jennifer, and 6-year-old brother, Wyatt, and wounded his father, Joshua, on Feb. 14, 2020.

Public defender Ryan Ruzic told Circuit Court Judge James Plowman: “The Commonwealth has made an offer that my client is considering. Given his youth, I’d like him to have an extraordinary amount of time to consider the offer.”

Earlier evaluations have found Norwood competent to stand trial, but the findings of the doctors about whether he was sane at the time of the killings have not been made public by the defense.

Given the fact that Norwood’s lawyer asked for, and was granted a second evaluation, by a second doctor, it’s unlikely that the initial evaluation determined that he was unable to understand the consequences of his actions at the time his family members were shot.

Yet, Ruzic said he had not received results of all the tests his client took from Rappahannock-Rapidan Community Services.

Ruzic and Fauquier County Commonwealth’s Attorney Scott Hook said they weren’t sure why the complete report wasn’t forwarded.

”They decided what they got to release and what they got to keep secret,” Ruzic told Plowman.

In asking for a short delay to receive the missing reports, Ruzic assured the judge, “We’ll either be ready to go [with a plea agreement] or need to set a date,” for trial. Hook did not object to waiting for the defense to receive the missing paperwork,  “before we reach an agreement.”

Each of the first-degree murder counts Norwood faces carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. His attorney would have until 30 days before trial to announce an intention to argue Norwood was not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the killings.

In April 2020, Norwood’s father was found dead at the family home, apparently by suicide.

As WTOP reported in July 2020, charging documents said Norwood told his girlfriend at school earlier “that he wanted to kill his mother.” The girlfriend also said Norwood was depressed and anxious, and had confided he was schizophrenic and would see “shadow people.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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