Two teenage high school students accused of killing their their 66-year-old Spanish teacher with a baseball bat apparently did so because she gave one of them a bad grade, according to court documents filed in court Tuesday.
Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale, both of Fairfield, Iowa, were charged last year with murdering Nohema Graber in Chautauqua Park on Nov 2, 2021—shortly after she refused to amend Miller’s poor grade in Spanish. The boys, both 16 at the time, were seen driving the teacher’s van away from the park. Graber’s battered corpse was found hidden under a tarp held down with a wheelbarrow and railroad ties some time later.
The young men might have gotten away with their alleged crime, but they reportedly bragged about it on Snapchat, and a friend alerted the authorities. Miller’s lawyer Christine Branstad petitioned the court to remove evidence from four search warrants and comments he made without a lawyer to police including blaming the murder on “a roving group of masked kids” who forced him to participate in the cover-up. The court will decide on Wednesday whether to allow the evidence in the young men’s separate murder trials. Goodale’s trial begins Dec. 5 in Davenport, Iowa, and Miller is scheduled to be tried in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on March 20. Both are charged with first-degree homicide and first-degree felony conspiracy to commit homicide.
Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding told the Associated Press that the motive for the murder was directly tied to Miller’s grade point average. “The poor grade is believed to be the motive behind the murder of Graber which directly connects Miller,” court documents seen by the A.P. said.
Goodale reportedly bragged about the killing after the death. An unnamed witness provided a screen grab of a message that, according to the attorney general’s office, “identify Goodale’s admissions that he acted in concert with another person to bring about Graber’s death.”
Branstad has argued on Miller’s behalf that the search warrants were issued on the basis of an “unreliable informant” and that they should be thrown out because “law enforcement failed to provide information to the issuing magistrate to show the informant is reliable or that the information from the informant should be considered reliable.”
Both young men will be tried as adults and face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.