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2 Iowa teens charged in killing of Spanish teacher to be tried as adults

The teenagers, 16 and 17, accused of killing high school teacher teacher Nohema Graber in November, had their requests to move their cases to juvenile court rejected this week.

Two Iowa teenagers accused of killing their high school Spanish teacher and leaving her body in the woods in November will be tried as adults after a judge denied their requests to move their cases to juvenile court.

The teenagers from Fairfield, aged 16 and 17, were charged as adults with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the grisly slaying of Fairfield High School teacher Nohema Graber, 66.

The teens allegedly observed Graber's daily routine, ambushed her on her daily walk, dragged her body into the woods and beat her with a baseball bat, court documents state.

NBC News does not name minors, even if they are charged as adults. 

Both teens pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The pair had filed separate requests to move their cases to juvenile court.

On Wednesday, District Judge Shawn Showers ruled the 17-year-old will face trial as an adult, denying the request to move to juvenile court. 

The request of the 16-year-old was denied the following day.

In Showers’ ruling for the 16-year-old he noted that people spoke highly of him and said he was a caring person. 

“Such statements support a conclusion that Defendant has the potential for rehabilitation. However, the juvenile court simply has too little time to rehabilitate the Defendant for a crime of such magnitude and of the nature described in the minutes of testimony,” Showers stated in the ruling NBC affiliate WHO of Des Moines reported.

Nohema Graber.
Nohema Graber.via Facebook

Both suspects were 16 at the time of Graber’s death. Under Iowa law, juveniles 16 and older are automatically prosecuted in adult court if charged with forcible felony crimes, such as first-degree murder.

The two will be tried separately. The 17-year-old's trial is slated for Aug. 23 and 16-year-old’s for Nov. 2 this year.

Lawyers for the 17-year-old said they had no comment at this time. An attorney for the 16-year-old did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment. 

Graber’s remains were found November 3 in Chautauqua Park in Fairfield.

Investigators said they found her body “concealed under a tarp, wheelbarrow, and railroad ties,” according to the criminal complaints. She had suffered trauma to the head.

Authorities haven’t disclosed a motive for the killing.

Both teens attended Graber’s Spanish class at Fairfield High School, where she had taught since 2012.