Iowa teens plead not guilty in Fairfield teacher’s death

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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 (AP) — Two southeast Iowa teenagers charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of their high school Spanish teacher pleaded not guilty in arraignment documents filed Monday.

Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale, both 16, are accused of killing Nohema Graber in Fairfield. Graber, 66, was reported missing Nov. 2 and her remains were found later that day at a Fairfield park where she was known to take daily walks. Earlier court filings stated that Graber suffered “inflicted trauma to the head.”

Miller and Goodale waived their right to a speedy trial, which means prosecutors are not required to try them within 90 days of formal charges being filed Nov. 12. Both said they are being held in juvenile detention facilities.

Last week, lawyers for the teens asked a state court judge to lower their bond so they could be released to the supervision of their parents, but prosecutors resisted and said the bonds should be maintained at $1 million or even raised to $2 million.

Jeremy Everett Goodale is escorted into 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)

Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown said the “extremely brutal murder of an innocent person” justifies keeping them in custody.

The attorneys for Miller and Goodale argued for home confinement and other monitoring, saying they had no ability to flee prosecution. Miller’s attorney Christine Branstad said research shows detaining juveniles away from family for prolonged periods before trial can have a detrimental effect on them and stunt their development.

Judge Joel Yates indicated he would reach a decision this week.

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