Massachusetts Teen Accused Of Killing Teacher Refuses To Return To Court, Halting Trial

| by Nicholas Roberts
Philip Chism, 16, Of Danvers, MassachusettsPhilip Chism, 16, Of Danvers, Massachusetts

The defense attorney for a Danvers, Massachusetts, teenager accused of raping and killing his math teacher in October 2013 said the teen committed the murder and did "unspeakable things" to her body, arguing that he had been driven by mental illness.

Philip Chism, 16, has been charged with the rape and murder of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School. He was 14 at the time of the murder, has pleaded not guilty and is being tried as an adult in the town of Salem, the Associated Press reports.

Chism's attorney, Denise Regan, argued before the court that her client should not be held criminally responsible for Ritzer's brutal death, as Chism has been "severely mentally ill" since the age of 10. However, Regan did not even attempt to argue that Chism had not actually murdered Ritzer, saying in her opening statement on Nov. 16 that Chism had done "unspeakable things" to Ritzer's body.

Prosecutor Kate MacDougall described in detail the horrifying acts allegedly committed by Chism. The teen brought a box cutter, a ski mask and gloves to school on the day of the murder, according to the Boston Globe. MacDougall said that Chism raped Ritzer, slashed her with the box cutter 16 times, and dumped her body into a recycling bin, which he then hauled outside of the school. At some point during the encounter, he also reportedly sexually assaulted her with a tree branch.

Chism refused to return to the courtroom after a break on Nov. 17, the second day of the trial. MacDougall was preparing to show the jury the blood-stained recycling bin at around noon, but Chism refused to re-enter the courtroom.

“I can’t take this anymore,’’ Chism reportedly said to a court officer. “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

Essex Superior Court Judge David Lowy had to halt Chism's trial, which was scheduled to last until 1 p.m.

“He said he’s about to explode and he doesn’t want to hurt anyone," Regan said to Lowy.

Court was scheduled to resume at 2 p.m. on Nov. 17, after Chism underwent an evaluation.

Sources: AP via New York Daily News, Boston Globe / Photo Credit: Boston Herald via Simmons Voice