Phillip Chism is on trial for the rape and murder of his math teacher. The 16-year-old allegedly strangled, sexually assaulted, and then slit the throat of Colleen Ritzer, 24. Chism has requested a change of venue in the Massachusetts murder trial because he feels the jury pool has been poisoned- against him due to excessive news coverage of the crime.
Colleen Ritzer’s body was dragged from a Danvers High School restroom in October 2013. The remains of the math teacher were found inside a recycling bin in some nearby woods. Tributes to the beloved teacher were also noted in the change of venue request. Phillip Chism’s lawyers feel his right to a fair trial will be infringed upon if the case is heard in Essex County in the Boston area.
Massachusetts police officers found Chism with his teacher’s underwear and a “bloodied box cutter” in his backpack, according to court records. The police report also stated that a tree branch was “sexually positioned” in the body of the victim. A handwritten note placed next to the corpse read, “I hate you all.”
The defense team also argued that the extensive media coverage of the rape and murder of Ritzer and the statement Chism made to the police confessing to the crime is now common knowledge and will prejudice the jury pool.
“There is little chance of a fair trial where the fact that the defendant has confessed is widely known,” Chism’s lawyer said.
The Essex County prosecutors have not yet responded to the change of venue request. The 16-year-old is scheduled to stand trial on rape, murder, and robbery charges in October. Chism, 14 at the time of the sexual assault and strangulation, had recently moved to Danvers from Clarksville, Tennessee. His attorney stated that the relocation occurred after a stressful divorce by his parents.
Colleen Ritzer reportedly asked Chism to stay later after school to help her with something on the day of the murder. School surveillance footage reportedly shows the teen following his teacher into the restroom about 3 p.m. Chism is accused of raping Ritzer twice – once with a tree branch.
The police maintain that Chism came back into the school building barefoot, changed into his soccer gear, and threw away his bloody clothes. Once he left the school, he went to Wendy’s and had a hamburger and then went to watch the Woody Allen film, Blue Jasmine.
Phillip Chism was arrested later the same evening when police saw him walking down a busy roadway. After waiving his Miranda rights, the teen reportedly admitted to strangling and slicing his teacher’s throat, but not to raping her. He pleaded not guilty to all the murder and rape charges.
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