Nohema Graber murder: Iowa teens who killed Spanish teacher DENIED move to juvenile court

Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale, both 16 at the time, ambushed and murdered Nohema Graber last year


                            Nohema Graber murder: Iowa teens who killed Spanish teacher DENIED move to juvenile court
Graber (L) was murdered by Goodale (C), and Miller (R) (Fairfield Police Department and Assistant Jefferson County Attorney)

An Iowa teen charged in the brutal murder of his high school Spanish teacher will be charged as an adult along with his 17-year-old classmate, a judge ruled on Thursday, May 12. Willard Miller, 16, faces first-degree murder charges in the death of Nohema Graber, 66. District Judge Shawn Showers refused to move the teens' murder case to juvenile court. 

On Wednesday, May 11, a judge rejected the request of Jeremy Goodale, 17, to be tried as a juvenile. Goodale also faces the same charges in the death of Graber. Both Miller and Goodale were 16 when they were arrested in Graber´s vicious murder.

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During Miller's court appearance, the judge said that the juvenile court system would not have enough time to rehabilitate him "for a crime of such magnitude". The judge cited in the ruling that the longest the teens could be held in the juvenile system would be six months past their 19th birthday they should go through the juvenile system.

However, attorneys for Goodale argued that he was a good candidate for rehabilitative efforts. The state countered saying the amount of time available for rehabilitation for such a heinous crime will be limited as the Iowa State Training School would hold him only until he turned 18 years of age. A jury for Goodale is scheduled for August 23 this year. Both the suspects face life in prison without parole if they are convicted as adults. 

The county attorney prosecuting the case of the two teens said in court documents that the students surveilled the pattern of Graber's life, ambushed her along her daily walk and dragged her into the woods. They murdered the Spanish teacher and later returned to hide her lifeless body. Police said she was beaten with a baseball bat. Authorities confirmed later that Graber suffered 'inflicted trauma to the head'.

Graber originally hailed from Xalapa, Mexico. She had been teaching Spanish at Fairfield High School since 2012, but it is unclear whether she had been the suspects' teacher at some point. Graber previously taught in the Ottumwa Community School District. Authorities revealed on November 4 last year that Graber was reported missing on November 2.

Graber's remains were found at the Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, about 100 miles southeast of Des Moines. Following the murder, Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek said in a statement, "An act like this is unspeakable, and we are torn that one of our education family is a victim to such a senseless act. Every day, educators work tirelessly to protect the students in their care. With full hearts and deep commitment, educators have been the backbone of our state and our nation during this unprecedented time. We cannot understand this, or any violence aimed at such guardians," he had added.