116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Two Fairfield teens, charged with conspiracy to kill a Fairfield High School Spanish teacher last week, are asking the court to reduce their $1 million cash-only bail.
Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale, both 16, are charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit a forcible felony.
They are accused of devising a scheme to kill Nohema Graber, 66, who had taught at Fairfield High since 2012.
In their request to the court, Miller and Goodale cited their limited financial resources and their willingness to accept additional conditions to ensure their court appearances.
Authorities discovered Graber’s body Nov. 3 in Chautauqua City Park in Fairfield, just blocks east of the high school, where she often walked. The body was concealed under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties. She had been hit on the head.
The $1 million cash-only bail set for each teen, who are being tried as adults, is not unusual n first-degree murder cases in Iowa.
An attorney for Miller, in a motion for bond review, argues Miller has no juvenile criminal record or school disciplinary record, is a lifelong resident of the city, has family ties in the community and state, and his family has the ability to “monitor him 24/7” if he is released from jail.
Christine Branstad, his Des Moines lawyer, also said Miller would agree to conditions of having GPS monitoring and a psychological and substance abuse evaluation and any recommended treatment, if released pending trial.
She asked the judge to release Miller through a pretrial release program or “significantly” reduce the bail.
In another motion, Wapello County Chief Public Defender Allen Cook, who is Goodale’s lawyer, argued the $1 million cash-only bail was unreasonable for Goodale, who is without financial resources. He suggested the teen should be released on his own recognizance, on an unsecured appearance bond or with other conditions that would ensure his appearance at court proceedings.
Iowa Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown, who is prosecuting the case, resisted the motions, saying the teens are charged with a “brutal murder.” Both made numerous statements indicating their involvement, which includes “state of mind at, before and after” the crime.
Brown said no conditions of release would provide safety for the community, adding safety and welfare concerns outweigh any other consideration that would be given the defendants.
Any promise of home supervision is insufficient since the crime happened while both teens were living in homes with their parents and had family support.
Brown asks the court to leave the bail in place. If either teen is able to pay bail, he asked the court to impose additional conditions of release, including home restriction, GPS monitoring and daily contact with a pretrial release supervisor.
A judge set the bond review hearings for Nov. 23 in Jefferson County District Court.
According to court documents, the teens devised plans over social media to kill Graber and then concealed her body in the park.
Family members reported Graber, who is originally from Xalapa, Mexico, as missing the morning of Nov. 3.
Investigators searched places Graber went in the city of 10,000 in south-central Iowa, including Chautauqua City Park where she had been seen the afternoon of Nov. 2.
The investigation quickly led to Goodale and Miller, according to court documents.
Fairfield police interviewed “an associate” of the teens who “provided investigators with social media exchanges indicative of Goodale having specific details of the disappearance and subsequent death of Graber,” according to a criminal complaint.
Details included how it would be carried out, the motive for killing the teacher and deliberate attempts to conceal their crime.
The complaint stated the associate also shared social media posts indicating Miller was present during the deadly attack.
Details of the social media exchanges, including a motive, have not been made public by police.
Investigators said they also talked with a witness who saw the two teens at the park the afternoon of Nov. 2.
Authorities said they obtained search warrants and collected several clothing items from Goodale and Miller that appeared to contain blood.
According to the 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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