One of the Iowa teenagers charged with murdering their high school Spanish teacher must go to trial as an adult, a judge has ruled.
District Court Judge Shawn Showers made the determination on Wednesday that Jeremy Everett Goodale, 17, must face first-degree murder charges for the 2021 beating death of Nohema Graber, 66, in adult court.
Showers said that the juvenile court system wouldn’t be able to rehabilitate Goodale if he was convicted, as he could only be held in custody for six months past his 19th birthday.
“The juvenile court’s dwindling time to rehabilitate the defendant is simply insufficient for a crime of such magnitude based on the nature of the offenses described in the minutes of testimony,” Showers wrote.
Prosecutors had argued essentially the same thing, according to local CBS affiliate KGAN.
A juvenile court officer testified in an April hearing that Goodale would be released and be unsupervised when he either turns 18 or gets his diploma. He is on track to graduate in May 2023, prosecutors said.
“If that’s what the programming is for such a heinous act, it will be open season on teachers in this country,” Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding said at the time. “Just the idea of allowing for such a limited consequence for such a heinous crime is completely unspeakable and should never be entered into.”
Goodale and Willard Miller, who were both 16 at the time of the 2021 killing, had been charged as adults. Both their defense teams have requested redirecting the cases through juvenile court.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Brenda Payne said Goodale should be in juvenile court, citing the teen’s ongoing brain development and access to rehabilitative programs in the juvenile system. She diagnosed him with ADHD.
“Difficulties with focus and getting assignments completed, being late to school, being argumentative, those things raised concerns for me,” she said, citing how teachers described Goodale.
Millers’ request is pending.
“He’s a kid,” Dr. Craig Rypma said of Miller in a hearing in early May, according to KGAN. “He’s a kid who needs redirecting right now.”
But prosecutors want the teens to face the allegations as grown men.
Goodale and Miller allegedly beat Graber, a teacher at Fairfield High School in Fairfield, Iowa, to death with a baseball bat after stalking her. Goodale wrote Snapchat messages showing he and Miller planned the murder, carried it out, and how they got rid of evidence, authorities said in a Des Moines Register report. These messages also featured the whereabouts of Graber’s body and her car.
She was found “concealed under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties,” authorities said.
As Moulding described it in court, Goodale and Miller acted out of a “grievance” against the teacher, according to The Gazette.
“Happy all the time. Always encouraging people to be the best of us. She was just amazing.”
That’s how a member of Nohema Graber’s church family described her to me today.
— Kayla James KCCI (@KaylaJamesKCCI) November 5, 2021
Nohema Graber is remembered as a devoted teacher, follower of faith and overall caring person.
Tonight hundreds of candles lit the spirits of the Fairfield community that is mourning the loss of Graber.
— Gillian Brooks (@GillianBNews) November 6, 2021
“To know Nohema was to love her — she was the kind of person every community longs to have in its midst and we were blessed to have her in our lives,” Graber’s family said in a statement last year. “She lived for her children, her family and her faith. Her next priorities were her job as an educator and the children she taught, her local Parish, and the Spanish-speaking community in Fairfield. The family deeply appreciates the outpouring of support during this unimaginable tragedy.”
[Image of Graber via City of Fairfield, Iowa; Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale via Jefferson County Jail]
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