The Des Moines Register reports Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale both entered the plea Tuesday, April 18, in Jefferson County Court for the death of 66-year-old Nohema Graber. The two teens initially pleaded not guilty. Records show Miller's trial was scheduled to begin April 21. Goodale reportedly agreed to testify against Miller.
Prosecutors are recommending 30 years to life for 17-year-old Miller and 25 years to life for Goodale. WHO-TV reports Goodale, 18, could face less time in prison because of his cooperation with prosecutors during the case.
Graber's family reported her missing to Fairfield Police Nov. 3, 2021, and her body was found the same day in Chautauqua City Park. Police arrested Miller and Goodale, who were both 16 at the time, on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit homicide. Prosecutors alleged the teens fatally beat Graber because Miller was angry over a bad grade, and the two reportedly argued the day before she was killed.
The criminal complaint said the teens "conducted a thorough search of the areas known to have been routinely frequented by Graber," including Chautauqua City Park.
The Associated Press reports Goodale said at the plea hearing he met Miller at the park with the understanding that Miller "had intent to kill Mrs. Graber." Miller "brought a bat among other supplies to go through with the murder," according to Goodale.
The teens beat Graber with the baseball bat, then buried her in the park under a tarp, wheelbarrow, and railroad ties. Graber suffered trauma to the head.
According to the Des Moines Register, Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding said following the guilty pleas, "We're glad the defendants have taken responsibility for the crime they committed and look forward to making sure justice is done at sentencing."