Teen who killed Spanish teacher over poor grade sentenced to life in prison


A youngster who murdered his Spanish teacher with a baseball bat over a failing grade has been sentenced to life in prison.

In April, Willard Miller, then 17 years old, admitted to the ‘brutal’ murder of Nohema Graber in Fairfield, Iowa in 2021.

After she graded down his work, he and his classmate Jeremy Goodale, 18, attacked Ms. Graber on her routine afternoon stroll in Chautauqua Park.

Miller later told police he was frustrated with her way of teaching, saying her marks were pulling down his grade point average – a key score used in applications for colleges and scholarships

He was sentenced to life in prison with a possibility of parole after 35 years. Goodale will be sentenced later.

The teen was also ordered to pay at least $150,000 (£117,000) in restitution to the victim’s family.

District Court Judge Shawn Showers noted his young age but said he had ‘cut Nohema Graber’s precious life short’.

He told him: ‘I find that your intent and actions were sinister and evil. Those acts resulted in the intentional loss of human life in a brutal fashion.

‘There is no excuse.’

Before he was sentenced, Miller told the court he accepted responsibility for the killing and apologised to his victim’s family.

‘I would like to apologise for my actions, first and foremost to the family,’ he said. ‘I am sincerely sorry for the distress I have caused you and the devastation I have caused your family.’

Miller also apologised to the Fairfield community, his own family, Goodale’s family and the police.

‘I’m realizing just the magnitude of my actions, and I know it’s wrong and I knew it was wrong and yet I still carried through,’ he added. ‘I still did what I did, and I accept responsibility for that.’

Many of Ms Graber’s relatives either read or submitted victim impact statements describing her as kind, caring and devoted to her family, students and church.

Several also blamed Miller and Goodale for the recent death of her bereaved husband, who suffered from cancer but delayed treatment amid his depression over the murder.

‘I hope you open your soul to the lord and maybe ask for forgiveness there first because you’re on a spiral straight to hell,’ Ms Graber’s brother-in-law Jim said while staring at Miller.


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