Jury finds ‘psychotic’ man who killed teenage girlfriend guilty of murder

A NSW man has been found guilty of murdering the girlfriend he strangled believing she had turned into a life-sucking demon as he suffered a psychotic episode. 

Jordan Brodie Miller, 21, has been on trial in Newcastle’s Supreme Court for the murder of 18-year-old Emerald Wardle at their home in Metford, near Maitland, in June 2020.

Ms Wardle was in a relationship with Miller and the pair lived together. Neighbours in the “small, loving, quiet neighbourhood” described Ms Wardle as “a lovely girl”. 

The trial heard Miller, a second-year university student and part-time service station worker, had no criminal history or mental health diagnosis before Ms Wardle’s death.

A young man in a black shirt sitting near a young blonde woman.
Miller with Ms  Wardle. The Crown argued his psychotic state was brought on by illicit drugs.(Facebook)

Miller, 21, has always admitted killing Ms Wardle.

The trial heard he attacked her because he thought she was a demon that wanted to suck the life out of him.

Miller had used the drug LSD 11 days earlier.

Accused ‘in a psychotic state’

Crown prosecutor Lee Carr told the court there were signs Miller recognised he killed Ms Wardle and knew she was a human and not a demon.

But defence barrister Peter Krisenthal told the jury his client had a mental health condition exacerbated by drug use and he did not know that what he had done was morally and legally wrong

In opening addresses, the jury was told Miller was in a “psychotic state”.

Mr Carr concluded that Miller’s unstable state was brought on by LSD.

But Mr Krisenthal said it was due to chronic schizophrenia and that Miller was mentally impaired.

During the trial, in police body camera vision played to the jury, Miller spoke about what happened.

As he was placed in a police car, he said: “She sucked the life out of me. I killed a demon.

During a police interview, Miller told police he “took half a tab of acid and had a spiritual enlightenment”.

“I became very smart,” he said.

“I felt I had a curse on me and the only way I could fix it was to kill myself or kill her.

“Essentially I lost a part of me.”

A brick suhome.
The house where Emerald Wardle died at Miller’s hands.(ABC News)

The jury was also played an audio recording of Miller’s first court appearance in Newcastle in which he repeated: “I’m a murderer”.

At his trial, Miller also relied on a partial defence of self-defence.

In summing up the case, Justice Richard Cavanagh told jurors that if they accepted mental impairment as a defence they would reach a verdict of the act being proven without holding Miller criminally responsible.

He said that would mean a conviction of manslaughter instead of murder.

Ultimately the jury agreed with the Crown, finding Miller guilty of murder.

Sentencing proceedings are due to start on August 18.

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