Two Iowa teenagers accused of killing their Spanish teacher in November 2021 were in court this week to make arguments that some of the evidence against them should not be admissible at their trials.
During the hearing, prosecutors say the defendants, Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale, who were 16 at the time of the alleged murder, beat Nohema Graber to death with a baseball bat over a bad grade. Graber had been a teacher at Fairfield High School since 2012 and was a beloved of her community.
“The poor grade is believed to be the motive behind the murder of Graber, which directly connects Miller,” the filed court documents read.
According to The Guardian, some of the evidence the defendant’s lawyers are seeking to suppress is evidence taken from Miller’s home, cell phone, and social media, and comments he made to police. During an interview with police, Miller said he was frustrated with Graber because the class was lowering his overall GPA at school.
Miller’s lawyer said four search warrants were issued illegally 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.”
Graber’s body was found in a park in Fairfield, Iowa, a day after investigators say Miller met her to discuss his grade. Investigators allege Miller and Goodale followed her to a park where she was known to take daily walks. Witnesses say they saw Graber’s van leave the park with two male teenagers in the front seats.
According to court documents, Miller initially told police that a “roving group of masked kids” killed Graber and then forced him to help move her body and drive her van away from the park. Documents also reveal that a witness provided screenshots of a conversation they had on Snapchat “that identify Goodale’s admissions that he acted in concert with another person to bring about Graber’s death.”
Miller’s trial is scheduled for March 20, 2023. Goodale’s trial is set for December 5, 2022. Both will be tried as adults and face up to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.