Teen accused of being an adult in death of Iowa Spanish teacher seeks minor trial

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Lawyer for one of the Iowa teens accused as an adult of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the murder of his high school Spanish teacher has asked a judge to try the 16-year-old as a minor.

If convicted as a minor, the teen could be released in less than 24 months, which prosecutors say would not serve the interests of the community or the suspect.

NBC News generally does not name minors charged with a felony, even those charged as adults.

NBC News generally does not name minors charged with a felony, even those charged as adults.

Lawyer Christine Branstad filed documents on Wednesday asking the judge to transfer the teenager’s case to juvenile court, saying he was 16 at the time of the alleged acts.

He “has never been involved in a juvenile court or a district court,” she said. She requested that a report from the juvenile court services be ordered and that the judge hold a hearing to determine whether the case should be transferred to the juvenile court.

Jefferson County District Attorney Chauncey Molding responded in court documents that state law allows for the exclusion from juvenile court of suspects 16 years of age or older charged with a serious felony, unless a valid reason is demonstrated.

“Due to the nature of the allegations, the undersigned contends that there could be no reasonable prospect of reintegrating the child into the juvenile justice system until the accused turns 18 and ‘aging’ by this system. Such a result would be outside the interests of the minor and of the community as a whole, ”he said. “The state considers that there is no reasonable prospect of rehabilitating a premeditated murderer in less than 24 months.”

He said the state did not object to the preparation of a report by a juvenile justice officer.

The teenager and another 16-year-old are being held on $ 1 million bail in juvenile detention centers awaiting trial. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Nohema Graber.via Facebook

They are accused of killing Nohema Graber, 66, in Fairfield. Graber was reported missing on November 2 and her remains were found later that day in a park. Authorities said she suffered “a trauma to the head.” His body was found hidden under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties at Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, about 150 kilometers southeast of Des Moines.

Authorities have not disclosed the motive for the murder.

At a court hearing earlier this month, prosecutors said the teens “engaged in the extremely brutal murder of an innocent person.”

Police said in court documents that one of the suspects posted details of the planning for the murder on social media. The documents said police investigators found clothing that appeared to contain blood at the teenagers’ home.

Documents also indicate that another admitted to being in the park when Graber was killed and providing material used to kill her and cover up her death.

The two teenagers took Graber’s Spanish course at Fairfield High School, where she had been teaching since 2012.

Judge Joel Yates has scheduled their trial to begin on April 19.


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