FAIRFIELD, Iowa — Incriminating statements made by a suspect in the murder of a Fairfield teacher might not be allowed at trial.

Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale are both charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of 66-year-old Nohema Graber. The body of the Fairfield High School Spanish teacher was found in a city park on Nov. 3, 2021 after being reported missing the same day.

Miller and Goodale were both 16 years old at the time of the murder. They have been charged as adults.

Willard Noble Chaiden Miller (L) and Jeremy Everett Goodale (Courtesy of Jefferson County State’s Attorney’s Office)

Miller’s attorney, Nathan Olson, claims the teenager was read his Miranda rights but was not told he was being investigated for murder. He is working to get statements Miller made to law enforcement excluded from evidence. During Wednesday morning’s hearing, Olson also accused law enforcement of withholding or omitting information when asking a judge for a search warrant of Miller’s home. The warrant was granted.

Olson said that the actions of the officers were reckless at best and purposeful at worst. It was a claim that was sharply dismissed by prosecutors.

“I’m not going to discuss the specifics of the evidence.  I will generally point out that our motion is specific regarding the information we’re saying that was known to law enforcement at the time before search warrant applications were presented to a judge,” Olson said in the hearing.

Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding countered the claim, saying “Paragraph three of the affidavit in question that the defendant alleges is a false swearing by a law enforcement officer, I’m prepared to present that document that is in question in controversy, and point to the court a number of points where the allegation, of essentially perjury by an officer — a very serious allegation — is completely disputed by the evidence.”

Prosecutors released new details in court filings earlier this week, claiming that on Nov. 2, 2021 a witness saw Graber’s van leaving the park where her body was later found and two males were in the front seat.

Investigators also discovered Miller had a meeting with Graber to discuss his poor grade in her Spanish class that same day. A court filing said the poor grade is believed to be the motive behind the attack.

Judge Shawn Showers will consider the arguments presented in Wednesday’s hearing and issue a ruling at a later date.

Miller’s trial is scheduled to begin on March 20, 2023, in Council Bluffs and Goodale’s trial is slated for December 5 in Davenport. Both trials were moved out of Jefferson County because of pre-trial publicity.