Police: Iowa teens used baseball bat to kill Spanish teacher | State and Region

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two teenagers in southeast Iowa used a baseball bat last fall to kill their high school Spanish teacher, and one of them has described in publications on social media how they tracked the woman, carried out the attack and hid her body, police allege in court documents released Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, a judge denied defense lawyers’ requests to bar the media from a hearing later this week in which the teenagers will seek trial in the juvenile system rather than adult court.

Jeremy Goodale and Willard Miller, both 16, are charged with murder in the death of Fairfield High School Spanish teacher Nohema Graber, 66. His body was found Nov. 3, hidden under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties at Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, about 150 miles southeast of Des Moines. She had been reported missing earlier that day.

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Details of the case were included in search warrant information that had been sealed by a judge until this week.

The documents indicate that a witness who knew Goodale showed the Goodale police Snapchat messages which indicated that Miller and Goodale “were involved in the planning, execution and disposal of evidence” related to Graber’s death. Goodale’s messages described that he and Miller monitored Graber, how she was killed, where her body was, where her car was parked, and how the teens disposed of and covered up evidence.

The messages indicated that a baseball bat had been used to kill Graber. Court documents say the teacher suffered ‘inflicted trauma to the head’.

According to court documents, police investigators viewed surveillance video that showed Graber’s car left Fairfield High School and entered the park around 4 p.m. on November 2. The car was driven out of the park approximately 42 minutes later, followed by a van.

The documents indicate that a witness told police that the items used or worn during the crime were taken to Goodale’s home.

In an interview, Miller told Iowa Criminal Investigation Division agents that he provided a wheelbarrow from his home, according to the documents. Another witness said he saw a man pushing a wheelbarrow down a street in Fairfield around midnight on November 2.

Many details remain hidden from public view, including an alleged motive. Lawyers for the teenagers asked the court to keep most of the information on the evidence sealed and asked that the media and the public be excluded from Thursday’s hearing on whether the teenagers should be removed from court for adults in juvenile court.

Judge Shawn Showers on Tuesday denied the request for a private hearing, saying defense attorneys had failed to show that the teenagers’ right to a fair trial would be irreparably damaged if the hearing were opened.

Goodale and Miller are being charged as adults, as required by Iowa court procedures, which state that anyone 16 or older charged with a forcible crime is automatically committed to adult court “and is subject to the same criminal procedures and sanctions as adults”.

The adult sentence for first-degree murder in Iowa is life in prison, although in 2016 the Iowa Supreme Court barred judges from imposing life without parole murder sentences on offenders under the age of 18, claiming it amounted to cruel and unusual punishment under the Iowa Constitution. .

It is likely that Goodale and Miller would serve long prison sentences if convicted as adults. If transferred to juvenile court, the two would be released at the age of 18, less than two years.

The judge set trial dates for the teens, with Goodale’s trial scheduled for August 23 and Miller’s date scheduled for November 1.

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Edward K. Thompson