Psychologist says teenager accused of killing Fairfield teacher could be rehabilitated in juvenile court

Jeremy Everett Goodale (left) sits with attorneys J. Nicole Jensen (center) and Allen Cook (right) during a hearing Thursday in Fairfield. Goodale asked the court to move his case from adult court to juvenile court, where he could face lesser charges and sentences for the murder of teacher Nohema Graber, 66. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Jeremy Everett Goodale (center) enters the courtroom on Thursday as defense attorney Allen Cook (left) looks on. Goodale, 17, and Willard Noble Caiden Miller, 16, are charged with first degree murder and conspiracy to commit a forcible crime in the murder of Nohema Graber, 66, a Spanish teacher at Fairfield High School. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

FAIRFIELD — An Iowa City clinical psychologist said Thursday that one of the teenagers accused of killing his Spanish teacher with a baseball bat would receive juvenile justice treatment and services — if released from custody. an adult court – but admitted there was no specific program for homicide defendants.

Psychologist Brenda Payne, who testified at a hearing to determine whether the murder case against 17-year-old Jeremy Goodale is transferred to juvenile court, said she underwent several tests to help her form an opinion. She tested the adolescent’s intellectual, executive, emotional and personality functioning. He is “brilliant”, has “above average” problem-solving skills and has no mental health issues.

Dr. Brenda Payne testifies via video call Thursday at a hearing for 17-year-old Jeremy Everett Goodale in Fairfield. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Payne diagnosed Goodale with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which affects his impulse control and ability to concentrate.

Payne said minors with ADHD are “very influenced” by their peers and have difficulty controlling their emotions. According to recent studies, a minor does not have a fully developed brain and has not formed character or personality traits like someone later in life, she said. In her opinion, she said, Goodale could be successful with the treatment and programs offered in juvenile court.

Goodale is the first of two teenagers seeking to have their cases transferred from adult court to juvenile court, where they could face lesser charges and sentences if convicted. Goodale, 17, and Willard Noble Caiden Miller, 16, are charged with first degree murder and conspiracy to commit a forcible crime in the murder of Nohema Graber, 66, a Spanish teacher at Fairfield High School. Her body was found in a park near the school in November.

Goodale, during the assessment with Payne, said he “cried for all the heartache he caused”.

Payne noted in his report that juvenile court would allow Goodale to receive needed services sooner than in adult court. According to a juvenile court officer’s report, much of the treatment in adult court would not be available until the end of a prison sentence – by which time the teenager’s brain would be fully developed and more difficult change behaviors, she said.

On cross-examination, Payne admitted that she did not review any police report of the crime and only reviewed the juvenile court officer’s summary. She also had no previous treatment or rehabilitation records to consider, as Goodale had received no mental health or addictions services and had no criminal history.

She also admitted that there is no treatment or services in juvenile court for those who have committed this alleged crime – first degree murder – as there is in the adult system.

Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Patrick McAvan asked if Goodale expanded on his bereavement comment and acknowledged he was sorry for the “grief” he caused Graber or other teachers, classmates of class or parents. Payne said no.

McAvan said Goodale could have meant he felt grief just because he was arrested and was in custody.

He then asked Payne whether eight or nine months, depending on when Goodale might be sentenced in juvenile court, would be enough time to rehabilitate himself for murder. She said it might depend on the resources available. But she felt it would be enough time if Goodale used his “time wisely”.

Allen Cook, Goodale’s attorney, asked Payne if Goodale’s lack of medical records made sense, as he had attended the private Maharishi School – which believes in holistic medicine – before moving on to public school. Payne agreed.

Attorney Allen Cook argues for the defense during a hearing Thursday for Jeremy Everett Goodale, 17, in Fairfield. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Karen Dennler, a juvenile court officer for the 8th Judicial District, testified that there was not enough time to rehabilitate Goodale before he turned 18, when the court for minors has no jurisdiction over him.

Goodale turned 17 in March and is on track to graduate in 2023. Once he turns 18 and graduates, that would end juvenile court services. Dennler said the waiting list for treatment in juvenile court is through August.

Goodale may not have the full nine to 12 months to complete the program, depending on when and if he is convicted. And he wouldn’t have to successfully complete it to be released.

Dennler said there is also no supervision — parole — in the community once released, as there is in the adult system.

Cook, in arguing for transfer to juvenile court, said Goodale would not receive proper program and treatment for a minor in the adult system, and furthermore it would not happen until much later in a prison sentence. . The court has the discretion to move this case out of adult court, Cook added.

Jefferson County District Attorney Chauncey Molding argued there was no program in the juvenile system to deal with someone who has committed first-degree murder. There would also not be enough time in juvenile court for rehabilitation.

Jefferson County District Attorney Chauncey Molding listens Thursday during a hearing for 17-year-old Jeremy Everett Goodale in Fairfield. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

He said Goodale and Miller developed a “grievance” against Graber. They “watched her, ambushed her and bludgeoned her” with a baseball bat and dragged her into the woods. Then they “drove him off the train tracks”.

Eighth Judicial District Judge Shawn Showers listens Thursday during a hearing for 17-year-old Jeremy Everett Goodale in Fairfield. Goodale is one of two teenagers of murderous teacher Nohema Graber, 66. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Eighth Judicial District Judge Shawn Showers said he would issue a written ruling on the defense motion. Miller’s hearing to transfer his case to juvenile court is set for May 6.

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