One of the two Iowa teenagers involved in the fatal assault on their Spanish teacher due to a poor grade received a life sentence on Wednesday. Jeremy Goodale, 18, tearfully apologized to the family of Nohema Graber, 66, as he was sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole after 25 years. The incident occurred on November 2, 2021, when Goodale and his accomplice, Willard Miller, 17, brutally attacked Graber with a baseball bat. The duo had earlier pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of their teacher, whom they had initially stalked at a Fairfield park, all while still being 16 years old.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Goodale, visibly emotional and with blood running from his nose, expressed remorse and apologized to the deceased educator’s family. He acknowledged the irreplaceable loss caused by his actions, expressing a desire to go back in time and prevent the tragedy. Prosecutors revealed that the motive behind the murder was Miller’s dissatisfaction with a grade given by Graber, as it jeopardized his chances of participating in a study abroad program. Miller orchestrated the killing, and the two teenagers ambushed Graber at a park where she regularly walked.
Judge Shawn Showers recognized Goodale’s remorse but pointed out that he, as an intelligent individual, could have prevented the murder by considering the consequences of his actions. Despite being charged as adults, the teens, being 16 at the time of the crime, are exempt from Iowa’s requirement of mandatory life without parole for those convicted of first-degree murder.
Before Goodale’s sentencing, 10 members of Graber’s family provided victim impact statements. Tom Graber, the victim’s brother-in-law, questioned the sincerity of Goodale’s remorse, citing his legal representation’s efforts to mitigate punishment. He emphasized that despite Goodale’s age and legal status as an adult, the actions taken to avoid punishment did not align with genuine remorse.
In a previous sentencing in July, Willard Miller received a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 35 years.