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Mass. teen pleads not guilty in slaying of math teacher

Philip Chism, 14, stands during his arraignment for the death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer in Salem District Court in Salem, Mass., Oct. 23, 2013. AP

SALEM, Mass. - Massachusetts boy Philip Chism appeared in Salem Superior Court Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery charges in the slaying of his high school math teacher, Colleen Ritzer.

Ritzer, 24, was found dead in the woods near Danvers High School, Oct. 23. Her throat was slit, and investigators found a note near her body reading, “I hate you all.”

Chism, 14, appeared in court in shackles wearing khakis, a blue sweater, a shirt and a tie. He said “not guilty” when a judge asked him how he chose to plead.

Chism had already pleaded not guilty in district court, but the case was moved to Superior Court after he was indicted last month. His attorney agreed Wednesday to a prosecution request that he remain held without bail.

Chism is charged with murder as an adult, and as a youthful offender in the aggravated rape and armed robbery charges.

For Wednesday's arraignment, Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead was sworn as a special Juvenile Court judge so he could hear all the charges together. It wasn’t decided Wednesday whether the aggravated rape and armed robbery charges would be joined with the murder charge and move forward in adult court.

Police haven’t released a motive for Ritzer's killing.

Students told police that Chism stayed after school the day the Ritzer was killed.

Search warrant documents made public last month described surveillance video that authorities said showed 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 him pulling a recycling barrel through the school and outside, according to the documents. A recycling barrel was found near Ritzer's body. Authorities said she was sexually assaulted with a stick.

Chism's next court date was set for Jan. 30.



  • Crimesider Staff

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