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Trial reset for one Fairfield teen accused of killing Spanish teacher
New trial date is April 21 in Council Bluffs
FAIRFIELD — A judge on Thursday agreed to reset the first-degree murder trial for one of the two Fairfield teens accused of killing their Spanish teacher in 2021.
Christine Branstad, the lawyer for Willard Noble Chaiden Miller, now 17, asked that the March 20 trial be continued and the prosecution agreed to the new date of April 21, according to court documents. The new date will allow both sides to address pretrial issues and “allow for a more efficient trial,” Branstad said in her motion.
Eighth Judicial District Judge Shawn Showers ruled jury selection will begin April 21 and testimony will start April 24 in Pottawattamie County District Court in Council Bluffs. The trial was moved from Jefferson County because of pretrial publicity.
Earlier this month, Showers had denied a request to delay the trial but agreed this week to reset it for “good cause.”
The trial is expected to last 10 days.
Miller and Jeremy Goodale, 17, are each charged as adults with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit a forcible felony in the fatal assault of teacher Nohema Graber, 66, on Nov. 2, 2021.
Goodale’s trial is set for May 15 in Scott County District Court in Davenport.
The teens are accused of killing Graber with a baseball bat, according to court documents.
During testimony in a previous hearing, an investigator said authorities learned Miller had met with Graber the afternoon of Nov. 2, 2021, to discuss his poor grade in her class.
Miller told investigators about his frustration that the Spanish teacher was hurting his grade-point average. He said he also knew Graber drove a Honda van.
Authorities learned, during the investigation, that Graber arrived at Chautauqua Park about 4 p.m. Nov. 2 for her daily walk, according to court documents. Graber’s van was seen leaving the park about 4:42 p.m.
The van was then seen on Middle Glasgow Road after 5 p.m., and a witness described two males in the front seat. The same witness then saw two thin, white males walking along Middle Glasgow.
Graber’s van was found at the end of that road about a half-mile from where the two males were walking, court documents stated.
Another witness told investigators that he was contacted about 5 p.m. and asked to pick up Goodale and Miller on Middle Glasgow Road, according to the documents.
Miller initially denied any involvement in the teacher’s disappearance but then later said he knew about what happened but didn’t participate, court documents stated. He told authorities the killers were a “roving group of masked kids” who forced him to provide his wheelbarrow to help move the body and drive her van from the park.
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