Fairfield, Iowa – An Iowa teenager was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday for the brutal murder of his Spanish teacher over a bad grade. Jeremy Goodale, 18, burst into tears as he apologized to the family of Nohema Graber, 66, whose life he took with a baseball bat on November 2, 2021.
Goodale and his accomplice, Willard Miller, 17, pleaded guilty earlier this year to the first-degree murder of their teacher. The two teens stalked Graber at a local park before ambushing her and beating her to death when they were just 16 years old.
During the sentencing, Goodale sobbed and expressed his remorse, saying, “I’m sorry, truly sorry. What I’ve taken can never be replaced. Every day, I wish I could go back and stop myself, prevent this loss and this pain that I’ve caused everyone.”
Prosecutors revealed that Miller, concerned about a bad grade affecting his chances of participating in a study abroad program, orchestrated the killing. The motive behind the murder was solely the teacher’s unfavorable grading decision.
Although Judge Shawn Showers acknowledged Goodale’s remorse, he noted that the teenager could have prevented the murder since he was a smart individual. However, due to the seriousness of the crime and the lack of consideration for the consequences, Goodale was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
The victim’s family members were granted the opportunity to deliver victim impact statements before the sentencing. During the trial, Tom Graber, the brother of the victim’s husband, questioned the authenticity of Goodale’s remorse, stating that the defendant was now an adult. Moreover, he is being represented by counsel and is attempting to escape punishment for this horrendous crime; according to Graber, that doesn’t seem like remorse.
As the verdict was handed down, the courtroom witnessed Goodale’s bloody nose, emblematic of the pain and trauma caused by this senseless act of violence. The two teenagers were charged as adults, but because they were 16 at the time of the murder, they are not subject to Iowa’s requirement that those convicted of first-degree murder receive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The tragic incident serves as a chilling reminder of the devastating consequences of unchecked anger and violence within a school setting.