DES MOINES, Iowa, USA — An Iowa teenager who was convicted of the beating death of a Spanish teacher in 2021 was sentenced yesterday to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 25 years.
A judge sentenced Jeremy Goodale for his role in the murder of Nohema Graber, a 66-year-old teacher at Fairfield High School. Goodale, 18, and a friend pleaded guilty a few months ago to first-degree murder in Graber’s death.
The two students used a bat to kill the teacher after stalking her as she took her daily walk in a large park in Fairfield, a small Iowa city located about 100 miles southeast of Des Moines.
Before being sentenced, Goodale apologized to the teacher’s family, the community and his own family.
“I’m sorry, I really am. What I have taken can never be replaced,” Goodale said, speaking at times between sobs. “Every day I wish I could go back and stop, avoid this loss and this pain that I have caused everyone.”
Prosecutors said Goodale and his friend Willard Miller, both 16 at the time, decided to kill Graber because of a poor grade he had given Miller. Prosecutors have said Miller first suggested that the two kill Graber after becoming concerned that a poor grade would prevent him from participating in a study abroad program.
Graber was born in Xalapa, Mexico. After graduating from high school, she worked as a flight attendant and later earned her commercial airline pilot’s license. After marrying, she moved to Fairfield in 1992 and later earned a teaching certificate. She had worked at the Fairfield school since 2012. Her husband, Paul Graber, died of cancer after the death of his wife. The couple had three children.
Judge Shawn Showers reviewed the 25 factors he had to weigh before handing down his sentence of life in prison with a minimum of 25 years. He said it was clear Goodale was remorseful and didn’t take into account the repercussions of killing Graber, but Showers noted the teen is a smart person who could have easily prevented it from happening.
The judge’s decision coincided with the sentence requested by prosecutors. Goodale’s lawyer had said he should be sentenced to life in prison with no mandatory minimum sentence before being eligible for parole.
The two students were charged as adults, but because of their age they were not subject to Iowa’s requirement that those convicted of first-degree murder serve a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
In July, Showers sentenced Miller to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 35 years in prison.
Goodale and Miller pleaded guilty in April to killing Graber.