July 7, 2023
FAIRFIELD, Iowa – Willard Miller, 17, is one of the two Iowa teens who bashed their high school Spanish teacher to death with a baseball bat due a bad grade. On Thursday, he was sentenced to life in prison, according to reports.
In April, Miller pleaded guilty to murdering 66-year-old Nohema Graber in 2021. He was 16 at the time of the fatal beating. His plea agreement was part of a deal that would land him a prison term of between 30 years and life.
Miller sat stoically, staring straight ahead as District Judge Shawn Showers handed down the sentence, noting that it was appropriate despite Miller’s young age since he had “cut Nohema Graber’s precious life short,” devastating her family and the community, the New York Post reported.
“I find that your intent and actions were sinister and evil. Those acts resulted in the intentional loss of human life in a brutal fashion. There is no excuse. There is not a systemic, societal problem that explains or justifies your actions,” Showers said.
“I’m realizing just the magnitude of my actions, and I know it’s wrong, and I knew it was wrong, and yet I still carried through,” Miller said. “I still did what I did, and I accept responsibility for that.”
Though Miller was sentenced to life, he could be eligible for parole after 35 years of incarceration.
Jeremy Goodale was Miller’s cohort in the fatal beatdown. He was also 16 when the homicide occurred November 2, 2021, but is now 18. He testified that both teens planned the murder for about two weeks and that each one hit the victim and then hid her body, Fox News reported.
Goodale is scheduled to be sentenced in August, but his attorneys are seeking a delay.
Law Officer article, November 2, 2022
FAIRFIELD, Iowa – Prosecutors reportedly believe two teenagers accused of brutally beating their high school Spanish teacher to death did so because because one of them received a bad grade.
The details were revealed after an attorney for Willard Noble Chaiden Miller, 17, attempts to suppress the result of a search warrant that helped tie her client to murdering Nohema Graber, 66, according to The Associated Press.
Miller’s trial is scheduled to begin March 20, 2023, court records show. His co-defendant, Jeremy Everett Goodale, 17, is set for trial next month on Dec. 5. He had successfully filed to sever their cases, Law&Crime reported.
Although both defendants were 16 at the time of the Graber’s murder, they will be tried as adults.
Law Officer article, May 24, 2022
FAIRFIELD, Iowa – Two Iowa teenagers pummeled their 66-year-old Spanish teacher to death with a baseball bat, police say, in new court documents released on Tuesday.
Jeremy Goodale and Willard Miller, both 16, are charged as adults with first-degree murder in the brutal killing of Nohema Graber, 66, a woman who taught them Spanish at Fairfield High School, the New York Post reported.
Graber’s battered body was found Nov. 2 “under a tarp, a wheelbarrow and railroad ties” at Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, a location that she frequently visited. She also sustained “trauma to the head,” Law Officer reported when the teens were initially charged in November.
The details were outlined in a search warrant unsealed Tuesday. Both defendants still await hearings on whether they should be tried as adults in the case.
Of particular note in the unsealed search warrant is that detectives focused on the teens when a friend turned over Goodale’s Snapchat messages showing the two “were involved in the planning, execution, and disposal of evidence” in the grisly homicide.
Goodale reportedly described how he and Miller surveilled Graber, followed her and killed her with a bat. He also noted where they hid her body and how they disposed of evidence, the newly released documents allege, according to Fox News.
Furthermore, law enforcement authorities conducted a search at their homes and discovered clothing with apparent bloodstains. The clothing also matched a description provided to detectives.
A motive for the brutal murder hasn’t been disclosed.
Miller’s hearing on whether he should be tried as an adult was delayed as the judge needs to rule on evidence before the case can proceed.
Goodale’s hearing is set for Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Fairfield is about 95 miles southwest of Des Moines.