Two Iowa teens have pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for brutally beating to death a high school teacher because one of them was upset over his grade.
On Tuesday, Jeremy Goodale and Willard Miller entered the pleas in separate hearings at the Jefferson County courthouse in Fairfield. The deals come after Goodale had agreed to testify against Miller, whose trial was slated to begin Friday, KCRG-TV reports.
Goodale told the court on Tuesday that he met up with Miller on November 2, 2021, at a local park knowing that his friend intended to kill 66-year-old Nohema Graber, a Spanish teacher at Fairfield High School.
On the day of the murder, Graber met with Miller at the school to talk about his grade and then drove to Chautauqua Park for a walk, something she was known to do. The two teens attacked Graber there with a baseball bat and then attempted to hide her body under a tarp and wheelbarrow, according to KCCI-TV.
Witnesses reportedly saw Graber’s van leaving the park with two males sitting in the front. The van was later found on a rural road.
Prosecutors alleged that Miller and Goodale, who were 16 at the time of the murder, both planned the killing and jointly attacked Graber. They stalked the teacher and tracked her routine in the days leading up to the killing, according to police.
Miller told authorities that he was angry with Graber because of how she taught Spanish and that his GPA dropped because of the grade her earned in her class. Miller admitted to jointly plotting the attack but he denied hitting the teacher.
The state has recommended that Miller be sentenced to 30 years to life in prison and that Goodale serve 25 years to life; both would have an opportunity for parole, according to Local 5. Miller is now 17 years old and Goodale is 18.
Iowa’s Supreme Court has held that juveniles must be given an opportunity for parole, no matter the severity of the crimes they have committed, KCCI-TV reports.
Fairfield is located approximately 100 miles southeast of Des Moines.
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[Feature Photo: Jeremy Goodale, left, and Willard Miller/Police Handout; Center, Nohema Graber/Facebook]