The first of two Iowa teenagers who pleaded guilty to beating their high school Spanish teacher to death with a baseball bat will be sentenced Thursday morning.

Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale pleaded guilty in April to the 2021 attack on Nohema Graber in a park where the 66-year-old teacher regularly walked after school. Prosecutors said the teens, who were 16 at the time, were angry at Graber because of a bad grade she had given Miller.

Miller will be the first sentenced after he pleaded guilty as part of an agreement in which prosecutors recommended a term of between 30 years and life in prison, with the possibility of parole.

2 IOWA TEENS PLEAD GUILTY TO MURDER AFTER BEATING HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER TO DEATH

Willard Miller

Willard Miller is led into a courtroom on March 29, 2023, in Fairfield, Iowa, for a hearing related to the murder of Spanish teacher Nohema Graber. (Kyle Ocker/The Ottumwa Courier via AP, Pool, File)

Under Goodale’s agreement to plead guilty, prosecutors recommended a sentence of between 25 years and life with the possibility of parole. Goodale’s sentencing is scheduled for August but his lawyers have sought a delay in the hearing.

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The teens acknowledged killing Graber on Nov. 2, 2021, in Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, a city of 9,400 people about 100 miles southeast of Des Moines.

Goodale testified they had planned the killing for about two weeks and that both of them struck the victim and then hid her body. Goodale said Miller had initiated the plan. Miller admitted helping but denied hitting Graber.

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The two were charged as adults, but because of their age they weren’t subject to a mandatory sentence of life without parole for first-degree murder. Miller is now 17 and Goodale is 18.

 

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