Miller pleads guilty in Lori Norman murder

CENTREVILLE — In St. Joseph County Circuit Court Wednesday, 34-year-old Randall Miller pleaded guilty to second degree murder in the 2019 death of Lori Norman in Three Rivers.

Miller originally faced open murder charges, but pleaded guilty to second-degree murder as part of a plea deal. Any other charges in the case will be dismissed, and he will not face a trial.

County Prosecutor John McDonough recommended to Circuit Court Judge Paul Stutesman a sentence of at least 20 years. The charge carries the possibility of life in prison.

According to a police affidavit from the incident, on March 25, 2019, dispatchers received a call from a neighbor about an unresponsive person at Norman’s house on Fifth Street. Officers arrived just after midnight on the 25th and tried to perform lifesaving measures on Norman, but were unsuccessful. Norman was pronounced dead about 20 minutes later, with autopsy reports after the fact showing it was “plausible” she died from strangulation.

During interviews with police during the investigation, according to the affidavit, one of Miller’s children said they saw him “choking [Norman] and slamming her and stuff,” and that when Norman and Miller fought, “he chokes her and she passes out but this time they went too far and he killed her.” Eventually, the child said, they went to their next door neighbor, who called police.

Miller testified in court Wednesday that on that day, he and Norman “had an argument,” and “tried to stop the argument” prior to the murder.

“During the argument, there was a struggle, and at some point, she went limp and quit fighting and I didn’t know what to do, and that was it,” Miller said.

Stutesman pressed Miller on how Norman “went limp,” with Miller saying he tried to stop the fight by “pushing her away from me.” Miller said he pushed her by the throat and had his hands squeezed around her throat. Afterwards, Miller said he “panicked” and “just left” after trying to help her, which “didn’t work,” and when asked by police what happened, he said he “didn’t know.”

Stutesman accepted Miller’s guilty plea, with sentencing scheduled for Dec. 18.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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