2 Iowa teens charged with teacher's murder seek lower bond

Courtroom and gavel
Posted at 5:32 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 17:32:39-05

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Two southeast Iowa teenagers charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of their high school Spanish teacher asked a state court judge Tuesday to lower their bond so they could be released from jail, while prosecutors asked it be maintained at $1 million or even raised to $2 million.

Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale, both 16, are accused of killing their high school Spanish teacher Nohema Graber in Fairfield.

The lawyer for Goodale said he doesn't have the financial resources to pay $1 million bond to get out of jail.

Goodale and Miller were escorted into separate court hearings 90 minutes apart by law enforcement. Goodale appeared in court wearing a facemask with an Iowa Hawkeye logo. Miller with a black mask. Iowa courts continue to require masks for hearings. Both looked straight ahead for most of their hearing showing little reaction.

"A million dollar cash only bond, judge, is so far unobtainable that it essentially amounts to pretrial detention without bond," said Nicole Jensen, the state public defender appointed to represent Goodale.

She said he has lived his entire life in Fairfield and his father, who works in construction, said he could likely manage to post $10,000 bond at most. She said Goodale, without a passport or driver's license does not have the ability to flee prosecution if released to home confinement.

Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown said the brutal nature of the crime justifies maintaining the $1 million bond or raising it to $2 million.

"The investigation in this case has revealed that the defendant along with the codefendant has engaged in an extremely brutal murder of an innocent person," Brown said. He asked Judge Joel Yates to take into account the details investigators have provided "concerning the planning that was engaged in by the defendant and his codefendant, the act that caused Ms. Graber's death and the treatment of her after her death is what appears to us to be also brutal."

Miller's attorney Christine Branstad offered similar arguments adding that detaining juveniles away from family for prolonged periods before trial can have a detrimental effect on them and stunt their development.

She asked the judge to consider GPS or video monitoring while he's under home supervision of his parents and other adults in his family.

Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding, also citing the brutality of the case, said there is no level of outside supervision that would ensure the safety of the community. He asked the judge to increase bond to $2 million for Miller.

Graber, who was 66, was reported missing Nov. 2 and her remains were found later that day at a Fairfield park were she was known to take daily walks. Earlier court filings stated that Graber suffered "inflicted trauma to the head."

Her body was found concealed under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties at the Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) southeast of Des Moines.

Police said in court documents that they received a tip that Goodale posted details about planning the killing on social media. The documents indicated police investigators found clothing that appeared to contain blood at the homes of the teens.

Documents also said Miller admitted to being at the park when Graber was killed, and to providing materials used to kill her and conceal her death.

Both teens attended Fairfield High School, where where Graber had taught Spanish since 2012.

Yates said he would consider arguments and filed a decision on bond next week.

Court arraignments for both are also set for Monday but their lawyers have indicated they'll likely file written arraignment documents in which they will enter a plea, eliminating the need for another court hearing.