Plea offer scrapped, Fauquier Co. teen chooses trial in death of mother, brother

In an apparent last-minute decision, Levi Norwood, who was set to enter a plea in the 2020 shooting deaths of his mother and brother, told a Fauquier County judge he wants to go to trial.

Norwood was 17 when he allegedly shot and killed his mother, Jennifer, and 6-year-old brother Wyatt, and wounded his father in February 2020 in their Midland, Virginia, home.

Norwood’s public defender, Ryan Ruzic, and Commonwealth’s Attorney Scott Hook told a judge in November 2021 that a plea agreement had been reached, to avoid trial. Court records show a sealed proposed plea agreement and a proffer of facts were filed Jan. 6.

On Thursday, Circuit Court Judge James Plowman said the case had been called to announce a plea. However, David Walls, deputy public defender, said Norwood wanted to go to trial.

Plowman asked Norwood, who appeared by video from the detention facility: “Your attorney is desiring to not enter a plea and to set a trial date. Is that correct?”

“Yes, your honor,” answered Norwood.

Plowman noted the case had been “continued several times for evaluations.”

Norwood has undergone two psychiatric evaluations — Ruzic hasn’t revealed the findings. While his attorney earlier was considering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, Norwood has repeatedly been found competent to stand trial.

Ruzic has not filed a motion alerting prosecutors of an intention to use an insanity defense, suggesting the psychiatric evaluations determined Norwood was not insane at the time of the offenses.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Jamey Cook asked Plowman to set a trial date “in early 2023.”

Norwood’s trial is scheduled from Feb. 21 to March 6, 2023.

Hook and Ruzic did not immediately respond to requests for comment from WTOP.

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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