Iowa teen sentenced to life in prison for murdering teacher



Willard Miller looks at one of his attorneys Nathan Olson during his sentence hearing at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Fairfield, Iowa, Thursday, July 6, 2023. Miller, the first of two Iowa teenagers who pleaded guilty to beating their high school Spanish teacher to death with a baseball bat, was sentenced Thursday to life with a possibility of parole after 35 years in prison. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
Willard Miller looks at one of his attorneys Nathan Olson during his sentence hearing at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Fairfield, Iowa, Thursday, July 6, 2023. Miller, the first of two Iowa teenagers who pleaded guilty to beating their high school Spanish teacher to death with a baseball bat, was sentenced Thursday to life with a possibility of parole after 35 years in prison. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)

By Katie Smith and Zach Petersen
10:27 AM –Friday, July 7, 2023

A failing grade in Spanish class has put two-students behind bars and their teacher in an early grave. One of the two teens charged with the 2021 murder of their Spanish teacher has been sentenced in Iowa.

After nearly two years, Willard Miller was sentenced to life in prison in Fairfield, Iowa on Thursday.

After he pleaded guilty to the murder Nohema Graber, his Spanish teacher in 2021, Miller was given the possibility of parole in 35-years.

At the time of the crime, the then 16-year old Miller and his accomplice Jeremy Goodale followed Graber home from school, smashed her head in with a baseball bat and dragged her body into the woods. This violent act was in retaliation to a bad grade the 66-year-old teacher gave the students.

Miller stoically addressed the court on Thursday.

“I would like to take this opportunity to take responsibility for the role that I played in the murder of Nohema Graber,” he stated. “I would like to apologize for my actions first and foremost to the family. I am sincerely sorry for the distress that I’ve caused your family and from the bottom of my heart I am sorry for your loss.”

Despite pleas to be tried as juveniles, the county prosecutor argued that there isn’t a juvenile treatment program to handle such a serious offense. The judge ultimately agreed during Thursdays sentencing.

“The definition of malice is the intention or the desire, to do evil,” the county prosecutor said. “And evil does not have a birthday.”

Miller’s partner in crime, Jeremy Goodale, will be sentenced on August 23rd of this year. However, his lawyers are asking to push it back until October for the availability of a psychiatrist testimony.