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One of two teenagers charged in the beating death of an Iowa high school teacher will testify against his co-defendant, a prosecutor announced Wednesday.
Jeremy Goodale has agreed to testify against Willard Miller during Miller’s upcoming trial, Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding said during a court hearing.
Goodale and Miller are each charged with first-degree murder in the November 2021 death of 66-year-old Nohema Graber, their Spanish teacher at Fairfield High School. Her body was found in a Fairfield park in November 2021.
Investigators have said Graber was beaten to death. In November, prosecutors said the teenagers killed Graber because of frustration over a bad grade, according to court documents.
“The poor grade is believed to be the motive behind the murder of Graber which directly connects Miller,” court documents filed by Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding and Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown said.
Court records do not indicate that Goodale has reached a plea deal and it was unclear what he might receive in exchange for his testimony, The Des Moines Register reported. Goodale’s attorney declined to comment.
Miller is scheduled for trial in April and Goodale in May.
The disclosure came during a hearing on a motion by Miller to suppress evidence from interviews the two teenagers gave to investigators. The motion also accuses police of lying on search warrant applications in the case. Miller has a pending appeal before the Iowa Supreme Court on the denial of a previous motion to suppress on similar issues.
Miller initially denied any involvement in Graber’s disappearance but “later stated he had knowledge of everything but did not participate,” according to court documents. He told police that the real killers — a “roving group of masked kids” — forced him to provide his wheelbarrow to help move her body and to drive her van from the park.
Graber had been a Spanish teacher at Fairfield High School since 2012, according to the school’s website.
“To know Nohema was to love her — she was the kind of person every community longs to have in its midst and we were blessed to have her in our lives,” Graber’s family said in a statement after her death. “She lived for her children, her family and her faith. Her next priorities were her job as an educator and the children she taught, her local Parish, and the Spanish-speaking community in Fairfield.”