Jeremy Goodale, 18, of Fairfield, confessed to first-degree murder for his role in killing Nohema Graber, a 66-year-old Spanish teacher at Fairfield High School, in 2021. Goodale, along with his accomplice, Willard Miller, were both 16 at the time of the murder and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges earlier this year, according to the Associated Press.
Court documents state that the two high school students meticulously planned to beat Graber to death with a bat after Miller had received a bad grade in class. Goodale and Miller stalked Graber as she took her daily walk in a Fairfield park and then beat her to death.
After they killed Graber, the two students used a wheelbarrow to transport her body near a railroad track and covered the body with a tarp, placing the wheelbarrow on top.
Goodale and Miller were reportedly concerned that the bad grade given to Miller would have prevented him from participating in a study abroad program. Prosecutors said Miller was the mastermind behind the plan and was the one to suggest the killing, according to documents.
On Wednesday, Goodale expressed regret to the community, his own family, and the teacher's family prior to receiving his sentence.
"I'm sorry, truly sorry. What I've taken can never be replaced," Goodale said, according to AP. "Every day I wish I could go back and stop myself, prevent this loss and this pain that I've caused everyone."
Judge Shawn Showers sentenced Goodale to life in prison with a possibility of parole after serving a 25-year minimum sentence, which matched the request of prosecutors.
During the ruling, Judge Showers said Goodale showed signs of remorse and noted that he could have prevented the killing of Graber.
In July, Judge Showers sentenced Miller to life in prison with a possibility of parole in 35 years. Both Miller and Goodale were tried as adults, according to the outlet.
"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," Showers said to Miller. "There is no excuse."
Ten members of Graber's family either spoke or had words read aloud by a court representative prior to Goodale's sentencing.
Tom Graber, who is the brother-in-law of Nohema Graber, said that the murder had a devastating effect on their family and accelerated his brother's death, Paul Graber, who died of cancer shortly after his wife was murdered by Goodale and Miller. He questioned the authenticity of Goodale's remorse.
"I must say your actions to me undercut that," Graber said, according to AP. "You're now an adult. You're over the age of 18, and yet you have your counsel to represent you...arguing on your behalf to escape punishment for this horrific crime. That doesn't sound like remorse to me."
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