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Philip Chism Refuses To Re-Enter Courtroom During Murder Trial

SALEM (CBS/AP) — The jury in the Philip Chism murder trial was dismissed early Tuesday after Chism refused to return to the courtroom following a brief morning recess.

Judge David Lowy said a court psychiatrist will examine Chism, 16, after Lowy observed him "mumbling with his eyes closed" and refusing to answer questions.

The teen is accused of raping and murdering Danvers High School math teacher Colleen Ritzer in 2013. Chism was 14 when he killed Ritzer. His lawyer says Chism was mentally ill.

The court officer went to get Chism to return him to court after the recess Tuesday, but he said the defendant wouldn't move from his holding cell.

"He said, 'I can't take this anymore, I can't come out, I can't take it. I don't want to hurt you, I don't want to hurt anyone,'" the officer told the court.

"He's about to explode," Chism's attorney said.

Lowy had ordered a brief recess to personally examine Chism's behavior.

Earlier in Tuesday's session, Colleen's mother was on the stand briefly.  She described the frantic search for her daughter after she didn't come home from work.

Peggie Ritzer
Colleen Ritzer's mother, Peggie, in Salem Superior Court Nov. 17, 2015. (WBZ-TV)

Peggie Ritzer testified that her 24-year-old daughter had a consistent routine and came home every day at 3:30 p.m.

When she didn't hear from her daughter that day, the family at first thought she had made plans or had been in an accident. They began to worry when she wasn't home for dinner, was not answering her cellphone, and hadn't posted on Facebook.

Police witnesses also introduced evidence into the trial including pictures of Ritzer's classroom, faint blood splatter on the wall of the bathroom where she was attacked, a bloody piece of cloth discovered in the woods where her body was found, and the recycling barrel used to move the body from the school to the woods.

Chism has already undergone a mental evaluation which had delayed the jury selection process. He was found competent to stand trial.

His attorney has asked for another delay in the trial.

If a court psychiatrist again finds Chism competent to stand trial, he may either waive his right to be present in the courtroom, or will be shackled and required to attend.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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