DES MOINES, Iowa. — An Iowa teen accused in the fatal beating of a high school Spanish teacher in 2021 was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison with the possibility of securing a parole in 25 years.
Jeremy Everett Goodale, 18, pleaded guilty in April to killing Nohema Graber, 66, who taught at Fairfield High School in November 2021. Also pleading guilty was another teen, Willard Noble Chaiden Miller, KCCI-TV reported.
Miller was sentenced in July 2023 to life in prison with the chance of parole after 35 years, according to KGAN-TV. Prosecutors said Miller had poor grades in Graber’s class and concocted the plan to beat and kill the teacher with a baseball bat, the television station reported.
Graber, 66, taught Spanish at the high school in Fairfield from 2012 until her death. Her body was found on Nov. 3, 2021, a night after she went walking in a park.
Her body was found hidden under a tarp and wheelbarrow, the Des Moines Register reported.
Before sentencing, Goodale apologized to the teacher’s family, the community and his family, The Associated Press reported.
“I’m sorry, truly sorry. What I’ve taken can never be replaced,” Goodale said. “Every day I wish I could go back and stop myself, prevent this loss and this pain that I’ve caused everyone.”
Court documents obtained by the AP indicated that a witness who knew Goodale showed police messages from the social media app Snapchat that showed the teen and Miller “were involved in the planning, execution, and disposal of evidence” in Graber’s death. One of the messages indicated a baseball bat was used to kill Graber, according to the AP.
“I am so ready to clear my head of thoughts of Jeremy Goodale and his codefendant Willard Miller,” Graber’s sister-in-law, Barbara Graber, wrote in a victim impact statement that was read during Goodale’s sentencing, the Register reported. “It haunts me the last face Nohema saw on this earth, and the last words she heard were those of Mr. Goodale.”
Judge Shawn Showers said during sentencing that he believes Goodale can turn his life around, according to the newspaper.
Unlike your condefendant, it’s clear to me you have regretted your role in Ms. Graber’s murder,” Showers said. “I think time will tell, but you’re far more likely to be successful than Mr. Miller.”