Judge Denies Tossing Evidence in Chism Trial - NECN
Massachusetts

Massachusetts

The latest news from around the state

Judge Denies Tossing Evidence in Chism Trial

A judge has denied a defense attorneys' request to throw out evidence in the murder trial of a Danvers, Massachusetts, teen accused of raping and killing his math teacher.

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Judge Denies Tossing Evidence in Chism Trial
    Philip Chism, 15, is accused of raping and killing his high school math teacher, Colleen Ritzer, at Danvers High School back in 2013.

    A judge has denied a defense attorneys' request to throw out evidence in the murder trial of a Danvers, Massachusetts, teen accused of raping and killing his math teacher; however, the defense has until Jan. 27 to appeal that decision.

    The decision came down Wednesday morning in the case of Philip Chism, 15, who is accused of raping and killing his high school math teacher, Colleen Ritzer, at Danvers High School back in 2013.

    Chism's lawyers want his confession thrown out, along with his police statement and other evidence seized on the night he was arrested.

    Authorities say surveillance video from Oct. 22, 2013, shows Chism following Ritzer into a school bathroom, wearing gloves and a hood, then later walking out of the bathroom alone.

    A short time later, the video shows Chism pulling a recycling barrel through the school and outside.
    Ritzer's body was later found in nearby woods, naked from the waist down and with her throat slit and a note that read, "I hate you all."

    A recycling barrel was found near Ritzer's body. Authorities said she was sexually assaulted with a stick.

    Earlier Friday, prosecutors called on state Police Detective Lt. Norman Zuk, who testified that Chism said a "trigger word" had set him off before the murder. Zuk did not say what that word was.

    Defense lawyers, meanwhile, called on Dr. Thomas Grisso, a retired University of Massachusetts professor and expert in juvenile psychiatry.

    He testified about the ability of juveniles to understand the implications of waiving their right to not speak with police.

    Grisso said adolescents tend to make decision based on "what will that get me now" and can be more easily swayed than adults by the prospect of short-term benefits, such as getting to go home, sleep or eat.

    Defense lawyers say Chism was detained by police for more than three hours after he was picked up around 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 23.

    They say he had been handcuffed for most of the time, was not allowed to make a phone call and had asked a number of times for food.

    Chism has pleaded not guilty to murder and aggravated rape. He is being tried as an adult.

    Chism's lawyers say police coerced his mother, Diana, to get her then-14-year-old son into waiving his rights and making detailed statements about the murder.

    Prosecutors maintain Chism, who had recently moved to Massachusetts from Clarksville, Tennessee, and his mother never absolutely invoked their right to a lawyer.

    At a hearing earlier this month, prosecutors played audio from Diana Chism's interview with police.

    The mother said her son was "capable of snapping" under the recent stress of his parents' separation and that his family had a history of mental health issues.

    Two local police officers also testified they found Chism carrying Ritzer's ID and credit cards, a bloody box cutter and women's underwear. Chism told the officers a woman was "buried in the woods" and could not be helped.

    For up-to-the-minute news and weather, be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Sign up for our new breaking news email alerts by clicking here and download our free apps here.