Washington Evening Journal
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Judge grants trial delay in Fairfield murder trial
FAIRFIELD – A judge on Thursday agreed to reset the first-degree murder trial for one of the two Fairfield teens accused of killing their Spanish teacher in 2021.
Christine Branstad, the lawyer for Willard Noble Chaiden Miller, 17, asked that the March 20 trial be continued and the prosecution agreed to the new date of April 21, according to court documents. The new date will allow both sides to address pretrial issues and “allow for a more efficient trial,” Branstad said in her motion.
Eighth Judicial District Judge Shawn Showers ruled jury selection will begin April 21 and testimony will start April 24 in Pottawattamie County District Court in Council Bluffs. The trial was moved from Jefferson County because of pretrial publicity. The trial is expected to last 10 days.
Earlier this month, Showers had denied a request to delay the trial but agreed this week to reset it for “good cause,” after the state opted not to resist the request for a delay after previously resisting it.
In her initial motion asking Showers to delay the trial, Branstad said that she had a busy trial schedule from January through March, and suggested postponing the trial until October. She also argued that she needed more time to prepare a defense pending Showers’ ruling on whether certain evidence would be suppressed. The defense had argued that information obtained through a search warrant of Miller’s phone and computer, and his police interrogation after Graber’s body was found, should not be admitted because they allege the authorities did not follow proper procedure. Showers ruled against that motion.
Miller and Jeremy Goodale, 17, are each charged as adults with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit a forcible felony in the fatal assault of teacher Nohema Graber, 66, on Nov. 2, 2021.
Goodale’s trial is set for May 15 in Scott County District Court in Davenport.