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FAIRFIELD — The second of two teens accused of killing a Fairfield High School Spanish teacher with a baseball bat filed an appeal late Wednesday with the Iowa Supreme Court to overturn a district judge’s rulings in the case.
Eighth Judicial District Shawn Showers has now suspended the first-degree murder case against Jeremy Everett Goodale, 16, until the interlocutory appeal has been resolved. Showers on Tuesday suspended the case of Willard Noble Chaiden Miller, 16, after he also filed an appeal Tuesday.
Goodale’s appeal, as in Miller’s, asks the court to overturn the judge’s ruling that allowed the public — including media — to attend a hearing, previously set for Thursday, about moving his case to juvenile court. The appeal also asked the court to overturn Showers’ ruling denying a suppression hearing before Thursday’s hearing.
Showers, in his ruling Tuesday, said the teens’ lawyers didn’t show that the trial rights of the teens would be “irreparably damaged” by having a public hearing.
Goodale and Miller are charged as adults, and court rules state that a reverse waiver hearing — sending a case to juvenile court — is public, according to the ruling. Goodale and Miller are charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit a forcible felony in the beating death of Nohema Graber, 66, who taught at Fairfield High since 2012.
If the cases were moved to juvenile court, the teens would face lesser charges and sentences. If the teens stay in adult court and are convicted of first-degree murder, they would face long-term prison sentences, though less than the mandatory life sentences given to adults, because they are juveniles.
Allen Cook and J. Nicole Jensen, Goodale’s lawyers, argue the district court should have granted their request to close the reverse waiver hearing to limit prejudice to Goodale. They also said it violates Goodale’s rights to a fair trial because the public would hear confidential and protected information that may later be suppressed for trial.
Cook, in the appeal, said allowing the reverse waiver hearing to be open to the public will create “irreparable harm” to Goodale and will open the door for the prosecution to taint the jury pool statewide.
On Monday, The Gazette found unsealed search warrants that provided more details on the crime and that the teens used a baseball bat to kill Graber.
The teens schemed over social media to kill Graber by monitoring her routine before ambushing her on her daily walk in a city park, killing her and later hiding her body, according to court documents.
Showers, in a ruling Monday, said the trials for both teens could be moved out of Jefferson County because the defense planned to file a change of venue and the prosecution will not resist. The defense hasn’t filed that motion at this time.
Goodale’s trial was reset to Aug. 23 and Miller’s to Nov. 1.
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