116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Two Fairfield teens, who authorities say plotted and carried out the “brutal” killing of the Spanish language teacher at their Fairfield High School earlier this month, asked a judge Tuesday to lower their bail to a tenth of the $1 million they each are being held on — and to let them post a fraction of that, instead of paying it in cash.
Both defense attorneys argued that according to Iowa law, bail should be something reasonable that Jeremy Everett Goodale and Willard Noble Chaiden Miller, both 16, could pay rather than remain in a juvenile detention center until trial, which could be months. They asked for bail of $100,000 each, to be paid either in cash or by posting a surety bond.
Conversely, prosecutors argued Tuesday that because of the callous circumstances of this case, each bail should be doubled to $2 million to protect the community from the teens.
Goodale, wearing a University of Iowa Hawkeye branded face mask, long-sleeve black T-shirt and a jail protective vest, appeared in court with his Ottumwa attorney, Nicole Jensen.
Video of Goodale’s hearing:
Miller, wearing a black face mask and blue tie-dyed hoodie, along with a protective vest, in a separate hearing appeared with his Des Moines attorney, Christine Branstad.
Video of Miller’s hearing:
Both had several family members and friends at each of their hearings in the Jefferson County courtroom.
Eighth Judicial District Judge Joel Yates didn’t make a ruling after the hearings. He said he would take the arguments under advisement and provide a written ruling next week.
Both teens are charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit a forcible felony. They are accused of scheming to kill Nohema Graber, 66, who had taught at Fairfield High since 2012. Authorities found her body Nov. 3 in Chautauqua City Park, just blocks east of the school, where she was known to go for walks.
Her body was concealed under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties. She had been hit on the head but investigators haven’t revealed if she was beaten or struck with an object.
Jensen argued that Goodale, being 16, is indigent and his family has limited financial resources. Goodale isn’t a flight risk, she said — he doesn’t even have a driver’s license.
Jensen also said Goodale didn’t have any criminal history or ever had any school disciplinary action taken against him. She also pointed out he was a lifelong resident of Fairfield and lived with his father, sister and nephew. He also has a sister in Iowa City.
Goodale would also be willing to be under house arrest or report daily to community corrections if released, Jensen said.
Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown asked the judge to raise the bail because the investigation had revealed Goodale participated in an “extremely brutal murder of an innocent person.”
Brown said Goodale also was involved in how the body was treated after the killing, which is considered “brutal.” He asked the judge to consider the minutes of testimony, which detail what happened but have not been disclosed to the public.
The nature of the crime, Brown said, far outweighs the factors Jensen noted of him having family ties and no criminal history.
In Miller’s hearing, Branstad said her client was a good candidate for pretrial release with provisions such as GPS monitoring because he has immediate and extended family who could supervise him round the clock.
Branstad also pointed out the “detrimental effects” that being in detention could have on a “juvenile presumed innocent.” She asked the judge to review a 2012 article about those effects on juveniles of being held in detention.
She acknowledged that Miller wasn’t in a jail or prison, but noted the detention facility didn’t offer time outdoors or family contact, except in an enclosed area. Branstad also argued that bail isn’t supposed to be imposed as a punishment. It’s to protect the community and ensure a defendant’s appearance in court.
Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding said Miller is accused of committing a “brutal and premeditated murder” and the circumstances of this case warrant he remain in detention. There is no adequate supervision for pretrial release to keep the community safe, Moulding said.
Moulding also asked that the judge consider the minutes of testimony and increase Miller’s bail to $2 million.
According to court documents, the teens devised plans over social media exchanges to kill Graber, and then conceal her body in the park. Authorities wrote in court affidavits that the social media exchanges provide a motive for the killing, but they have not released that information to the public.
Family members reported Graber, who originally is from Xalapa, Mexico, as missing the morning of Nov. 3. The investigation quickly led to Goodale and Miller, according to court documents.
Fairfield police interviewed “an associate” of the teens who provided investigators with the exchanges indicating Goodale had details of the disappearance and death, according to a criminal complaint.
Details included how it would be carried out, the motive for killing the teacher and deliberate attempts to conceal the crime, court records say. Authorities said they obtained search warrants and collected several clothing items from Goodale and Miller that appeared to contain blood.
According to a criminal complaint, when Miller was confronted by police during an interview, he admitted to being in Chautauqua City Park when Graber was killed and “providing materials utilized in committing the murder, and aiding in actions taken to conceal the murder.”
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