NATIONAL NEWS

Teen pleads guilty in Iowa teacher’s beating death

Apr 18, 2023, 7:32 AM | Updated: 8:02 am

Willard Miller is led into a courtroom Wednesday, March 29, 2023, in Fairfield, Iowa, for a hearing...

Willard Miller is led into a courtroom Wednesday, March 29, 2023, in Fairfield, Iowa, for a hearing related to the murder charge he faces in the 2021 death of Fairfield, Iowa, Spanish teacher Nohema Graber. (Kyle Ocker/The Ottumwa Courier via AP, Pool)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Kyle Ocker/The Ottumwa Courier via AP, Pool)

One of two Iowa teenagers charged in the beating death of an Iowa high school teacher has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

Willard Miller changed his plea to guilty Tuesday morning and admitted that he served as a lookout while prosecutors say Jeremy Goodale beat 66-year-old Nohema Graber, their Spanish teacher at Fairfield High School.

Prosecutors said the evidence shows that both Miller and Goodale struck Graber with a bat. Miller admitted helping plan and carry out the killing but denied ever hitting Graber. Investigators have said the attack was possibly regarding a dispute over grades in Graber’s class.

Graber’s body was found in a Fairfield park in November 2021 hidden under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties. Fairfield is a town of about 9,400 people that’s some 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Des Moines.

Prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence between 30 years and life in prison with the possibility of parole as part of an agreement with Miller.

Goodale is scheduled to appear in court later Tuesday morning. He had previously agreed to testify against Miller at his trial, which was expected to begin later this week.

Goodale and Miller were both charged as adults because of the severity of the crime, but they weren’t subject to a mandatory sentence of life without parole because they were 16 at the time Graber was killed.

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