Iowa teen convicted of killing Spanish teacher gets life in prison with possibility of parole after 25 years

Iowa teen convicted of killing Spanish teacher gets life in prison with possibility of parole after 25 years

Des Moines, Iowa – An Iowa teen convicted of the 2021 beating death of a high school Spanish teacher was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole for 25 years.

A judge sentenced Jeremy Goodall for his role in the killing of Nohema Graber, a 66-year-old teacher at Fairfield High School. Goodall, 18, and a friend pleaded guilty earlier this year to first-degree murder in the beating death of Graber.

The two high school students used a bat to kill Graber after they chased her while she was walking daily in a large park in Fairfield, a small Iowa city located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Des Moines.

Before being sentenced, Goodall apologized to the teacher’s family, the community and his own family.

“I’m sorry, really sorry. What I took can never be replaced,” Goodall said, tearing up at times. “Every day I wish I could go back and stop myself, prevent this loss and this pain I’ve caused everyone.”

Prosecutors said Goodall and his friend Willard Miller, both 16 at the time, decided to kill Graber because of the poor judgment she gave Miller. Prosecutors said Miller first suggested that the two kill Graber after he became concerned that a poor grade would prevent him from participating in a study abroad program.

Judge Sean Shores identified 25 factors he had to take into consideration before handing down his life sentence with a minimum of 25 years. He said it was clear Goodall was remorseful and did not consider the ramifications of killing Graber, but Schurz suggested the teen was an intelligent person who could easily have prevented the crime from being carried out.

The judge’s decision matches the sentence requested by prosecutors. Goodall’s lawyer said he should be sentenced to life in prison without a mandatory minimum sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

The two students were charged as adults, but because of their age were not subject to Iowa’s requirement that those convicted of first-degree murder serve a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

In July, Shores sentenced Miller to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 35 years in prison.

Goodall and Miller pleaded guilty in April to killing Graber. After killing Graber, they used a wheelbarrow to transport her body to a location near the railroad tracks, where they covered her with a tarp and placed the wheelbarrow and railroad tie on top of the tarp.

Graber was born in Xalapa, Mexico. After graduating from high school, she worked as a flight attendant and later obtained her license as a commercial airline pilot. After her marriage, she moved to Fairfield in 1992 and later earned a teaching certificate. She had worked at Fairfield High School since 2012. Her husband, Paul Graber, died of cancer following the death of his wife. The couple had three children.

Speaking before Goodall was sentenced, 10 members of Graber’s family gave victim impact statements or had them read by a court official. During these statements, Goodall appeared to be trying to maintain his composure and hold back tears.

Tom Graber, the victim’s brother-in-law Paul, said the killing devastated their family and hastened his brother’s death. He said Goodall appeared remorseful in his statement to the court, but he questioned the veracity of those statements.

“I have to say, your actions toward me undermine that,” Graber said. “You are now an adult. You are over 18 years old, and yet you have a lawyer representing you… fighting for you to escape punishment for this horrific crime. That doesn’t sound like remorse to me.”

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

(tags for translation) Education

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