A 14-year-old student accused of rape, murder pleads not guilty.
A high school teen who was accused of killing his Math teacher has pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on Wednesday in Salem Superior Court, Massachusetts.
Philip Chism, a 14-year-old high school boy has been charged of murder, aggravated rape, and armed robbery charges on October 22, 2013 for the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old Math teacher at Danvers High School.
Ritzer’s body was found lying in the woods near the school with a slit throat and a note which read:
I hate you all.- Philip Chism
Chism had earlier pleaded not guilty in the District Court, but the case was moved to the Superior Court after he was indicted last month.
The hearing, which lasted for 15 minutes, had Chism’s lawyer agree to a prosecution request that he remain held without bail. A pre-trial was set on January 30.
The family and friends of Ritzer left the courtroom quietly without leaving any word to reporters.
In a statement released later, the Ritzer’s family lamented that they still feel devastated by Colleen’s death.
However, with the tremendous outpouring of love and support including donations for scholarship funds in the teacher’s name, they have remained strong.
Reports from the Associated Press said the police haven’t released the motive of killing yet.
According to Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall, the investigation has not established anything that points to mental health issues.
Denise Regan, Chism’s lawyer, said “if and when” she feels it is appropriate, she would raise the issue of mental competency.
MacDougall, on the other hand, said the prosecutors will ask the Superior Court to try Chism on all the charges as in her argument, robbery and rape is part and parcel of the murder raps he is facing but the counsel for Chism said she may oppose this.
The judge bared that he may send the legal question to the State Appeal court.
On the day of Ritzer’s killing, students recounted to the police that Chism remained after class.
A student who also stayed has observed Chism to have become upset with Ritzer’s topic about Tennessee. (Chism recently relocated from Tennessee to Massachusetts.)
From the search warrant documents shown to the public last month, the authorities revealed that a surveillance video showed Chism following Ritzer in the bathroom.
Chism, who was wearing gloves and a hood, walked out of the bathroom alone.
Later, the video showed Chism pulling a recycling barrel, which was found near Ritzer’s body, whom the police said was sexually assaulted with a stick.
Chism is now facing charges of murder as an adult.
As a youthful offender, he also faces raps for aggravated rape and armed robbery, which are now pending in juvenile court.