Fairfield teen accused of killing teacher wants case returned to juvenile court

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Willard Noble Chaiden Miller listens as his attorney Christine Branstad speaks during a bond review hearing at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Fairfield, Iowa, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. (Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Des Moines Register via AP)

FAIRFIELD, Iowa – One of the teens charged with murdering his high school Spanish teacher in Fairfield has filed a motion to have his case returned to juvenile court.

Lawyers for 16-year-old Willard Miller filed the motion Wednesday to reverse Miller’s waiver to adult court. Miller, along with 16-year-old Jeremy Goodale, is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of 66-year-old Nohema Graber.

Police say the two teens plotted and then carried out Graber’s murder at Chautauqua Park in Fairfield on November 2nd. Graber’s family reported her missing the following day and her body was discovered later that day in the park.

Authorities say the Fairfield High School teacher died from trauma to the head.

According to Iowa law, juveniles age 16 and older who are alleged to have committed a forcible felony, such as first-degree murder, are waived to adult court.

Miller’s motion claims the waiver should be reversed and his case should be heard in juvenile court because he has no prior juvenile court or district court involvement.

The state argues justice would not be done if Miller’s case were returned to juvenile court. “The State believes there is no reasonable prospect of rehabilitating a premeditated murderer in less than 24 months,” which is when the state says Miller would “age out” of the juvenile court system.

A hearing on the motion has not yet been set.

The trial for Miller and Goodale is currently scheduled for April 19, 2022.

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