Washington Evening Journal
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Judge denies request for delay in Fairfield murder trial
FAIRFIELD – District Court Judge Shawn Showers has denied a Fairfield teen’s request for a delay in his trial.
Willard Noble Chaiden Miller, 17, is scheduled to stand trial for murder on March 20, 2023 in Council Bluffs. He is one of two Fairfield teens accused of murdering Fairfield resident Nohema Graber in November 2021.
His defense attorneys, Christine Branstad and Nathan Olson, had asked for a continuance because of her busy trial schedule from January through March, among other reasons. Branstad suggested in email correspondence postponing the trial until October.
Showers denied Branstad’s request in a motion filed Friday afternoon, Jan. 27, after hearing from both sides in a virtual hearing. He said there was not “good and compelling cause” to delay the trial further.
One of Branstad’s arguments for delaying the trial was that she needed more time to prepare a defense, pending Showers’ ruling on whether certain evidence would be suppressed. Showers made that ruling on Jan. 23, denying Branstad’s request to suppress evidence obtained after a search warrant was executed on Miller’s phone and computer after he was questioned by law enforcement.
Showers wrote that the trial date of March 20, 2023 was set back in August, and that it is 51 days away, which he regarded as giving Branstad “ample time” to prepare a defense. He cited case law showing that a trial should only be delayed again if “an injustice has resulted.”
“It would be an astoundingly mythical legal stretch to classify starting this jury trial in approximately two months, which has been scheduled for five months, as an ‘injustice,’” Showers wrote.
The other teen charged with murdering Graber is Jeremy Goodale, 17. Due to extensive media coverage, both Goodale’s trial and Miller’s trial have been moved out of Jefferson County. Goodale is scheduled to stand trial on May 15 in Davenport.
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