Iowa teenager charged with teacher’s murder seeks juvenile trial

The attorney for a 17-year-old from Iowa accused of helping a classmate kill his high school Spanish teacher has argued his case should be moved from adult court to juvenile court

DES MOINES, Iowa — The attorney for an Iowa teenager accused of helping a classmate kill his high school Spanish teacher argued in court Thursday that his case should be moved out of court for adults in juvenile court, which would allow his release in less than a year.

Jeremy Goodale and Willard Miller were both 16 when they were arrested for the murder of Nohema Graber, 66, a teacher at Fairfield High School. Graber had been beaten to death with a baseball bat. His body was found Nov. 3 hidden under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties in a city park, about 150 miles southeast of Des Moines. She had been reported missing earlier that day.

Goodale, now 17, and Miller are charged with her first-degree murder.

Goodale’s attorney, Allen Cook, presented testimony from a clinical psychologist who diagnosed Goodale with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Cook told Judge Shawn Showers that Goodale should be sent to the juvenile justice system where – if convicted – he can begin treatment much earlier than if convicted as an adult and sent to prison.

Cook also argued that research has shown that adolescent brains are not fully developed and can benefit from early intervention and psychotherapy.

Cook said Goodale’s mother left the family when he was 12, he had to change schools from Maharishi Private School in Fairfield to public schools and he felt isolated due to the pandemic .

“These are all factors that we have to consider, your honor, because this is a child again,” he said.

He said Goodale had a loving family and a support system in the community if he were to be released and that, despite attempts to paint him as a monster, he was just a child who would benefit from rehabilitation programs. for minors.

County Attorney Chauncey Molding said there was no evidence to show ADHD was behind Goodale’s alleged actions. He said Goodale would not remain in the juvenile system long enough to be rehabilitated until his 18th birthday, when he would be released into the community. Two teenagers should not be allowed to go free so soon after they allegedly killed someone, he said.

“If this is what the lineup is for such a heinous act, it will be open season on teachers in this country,” Molding said. “The mere thought of allowing such a limited consequence for such a heinous crime is utterly indescribable and should never be considered.”

Goodale and Miller are being charged as adults, as required by Iowa court procedures, which state that anyone 16 or older charged with a forcible crime is automatically committed to adult court “and is subject to the same criminal procedures and sanctions as adults”.

The judge indicated that he would rule “in due time” on the request for passage to the juvenile court.

The adult sentence for first-degree murder in Iowa is life in prison, although in 2016 the Iowa Supreme Court barred judges from handing down life sentences without parole. persons convicted of murder under the age of 18. The court said such punishments were cruel and unusual. punishment under the Iowa Constitution. Goodale and Miller would likely serve long prison sentences if convicted as adults.

Miller’s lawyers have also requested a hearing on the transfer of his case to juvenile court. It is set for May 6.

The judge scheduled Goodale’s trial for August 23 and Miller’s trial for November 1.

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