July 6 (UPI) — One of two Iowa teens convicted of murdering their Spanish teacher was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 35 years.
Willard Miller was admonished by District Court Judge Shawn Showers in the courtroom in Ottumwa, Iowa, who called the now 17-year-old “sinister and evil.”
Miller and Jeremy Goodal both pleaded guilty in April to the murder of Fairfield High School teacher Nohema Grabner. The two juveniles were 16 at the time.
At the time, Iowa Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown said Goodale’s cooperation with prosecutors resulted in a recommended minimum sentence of 25 years.
Brown’s office petitioned for a sentence of 30 years to life for Miller, who admitted during testimony to buying the baseball bat used to bludgeon Grabner, 66, to death. He also said he bought the bat with that intention.
The two teens later dumped her body in a city park, concealing it under a tarp.
“Your horrific actions led to the death of Nohema Graber, and her family will never be able to fill that void,” the judge told Miller during sentencing, adding he would have given him the stiffer sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if able to. Iowa law does not allow for such a sentence for juveniles.
Prosecutors contend the motive for the crime was a dislike of Grabner because Miller was failing her class.
Miller and Goodale are also required to pay a collective $150,000 in restitution to Grabner’s family.
“This was a cruel, heinous act by two defendants,” Brown said during the sentencing hearing.
“I cannot imagine anything really worse than to be attacked in the manner that she was, for what? A grade.”