Washington Evening Journal
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Fairfield teen’s defense asks for evidence suppression
FAIRFIELD — Lawyers for Willard Noble Chaiden Miller, one of two Fairfield teens accused of killing Spanish Teacher Nohema Graber in 2021, filed to suppress evidence in allegations against Miller, who is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit the forcible felony.
At a hearing Wednesday morning, defense attorney Nathan Olson said Miller’s questioning by police shortly after the crime violated his constitutional rights, and reached beyond the scope of a warrant to obtain evidence in the case.
It was not the first time Miller’s legal team requested suppression for many of the items, including findings from Snapchat photos and Miller’s comments during said police interview, as well as those from Jeremy Everett Goodale, who is also charged with murder.
Olson said Goodale’s enlistment as a state witness, rather than just a co-defendant, justified renewed attention to a suppression request, and argued that Miller, 17, was illegally interrogated, and that such a practice should void the resulting evidence.
“Our briefing and the facts before this court make it very clear that these are … issues that are well-supported by the case law cited, (and) by both facts and a request by this court to protect the constitutional rights of Mr. Miller,” Olson said. “I see these as legitimate issues.”
Defense attorney Christine Branstad said the decision by police to question Miller at a government building outside of his home made the action a functional unwarranted arrest.
“There was no need to remove him from his home in order to collect evidence,” she said. “That may be where (fingerprints) are usually done, but it isn’t where they have to be done … it doesn’t have to be done putting someone into a police cruiser, isolating them from their parents, isolating them from other people, and holding him where he is unable to leave.”
Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding, who represents the state in the case, said the attempt at suppression was misguided. For one, he said Miller’s questioning did not constitute an arrest.
"Mr. Miller was asked to come down to the law center to speak with police,“ Moulding said. ”He was afforded a juvenile memorandum that was signed off by his mother, signed off by him and he voluntarily spoke with the police. There was never an instance where Chaiden Miller attempted to leave, or attempted to cut off conversation.“
For another, Moulding said Miller’s defense had no standing to invoke the rights of another person — Goodale — in an effort to suppress evidence for the former’s case.
While Moulding said the defense had a right to make such requests, he said there was no legal standing to justify suppression.
“They’re setting up an argument on appeal to have the supreme court reconsider the state of the law as it exists today,” he said. “However, this court’s purview, is to determine whether the facts, as exist today, and the law as exists today, grant defense’s remedies. They do not.”
In a filing released shortly after the Wednesday morning hearing, the court announced Miller’s jury trial date of April 21 in Council Bluffs.