Danvers HS killer Philip Chism has been convicted for the rape, robbery, and murder of his math teacher, Colleen Ritzer. Fox News reports that Judge David Lowy scheduled a status hearing for December 22. Sentencing will be discussed at this hearing.
Boston.com reports that the confessed killer initially refused to enter the courtroom for his trial. His attorney said he “was twitching, mumbling and saying he was about to explode as he sat in a holding cell just outside the courtroom at Salem Superior Court.” Judge David A. Lowy took a recess to observe Chism’s behavior and described him as laying on the floor and muttering with his eyes closed, not responding to anyone.
In November, defense attorneys admitted that Chism killed his math teacher but claimed that he was not criminally responsible for his actions and should not be convicted of murder because he suffers from a “psychotic disorder.”
Reuters reports that the jury deliberated for nine hours before reaching a verdict.
When asked to state the jury’s verdict on the charge of first-degree murder, the foreman said they found confessed killer Philip Chism guilty of “deliberate premeditation and extreme atrocity with cruelty”.
Because he confessed to being Colleen Ritzer’s killer, the insanity defense presented by the killer’s attorneys was not convincing. Boston.com describes the prosecution’s portrayal of Chism throughout the trial as a liar whose behavior changed after his arrest in hopes of being found not guilty due to insanity. Psychologists who testified for the prosecution stated that test results indicated a possibility that he was indeed faking his mental illness.
The Boston Globe pointed to the fact that the confessed killer brought a ski mask, gloves, and a box cutter with him to school that day in order to carry out his premeditated plan to kill his teacher. The prosecution used this fact to counter the defense’s insanity argument.
The Danvers HS student is shown following Ritzer into the bathroom on surveillance video from the day of her murder, October 22, 2013.
CNN described what allegedly happened after the killer entered the bathroom. Ritzer was attacked with a box cutter and her body was placed in a recycling bin he used to transport her to the woods. Her throat had been slashed, and she had been raped with an object. A handwritten note that said “I hate you all” was found near Ritzer’s body.
The Boston Globe reports that Colleen Ritzer was raped twice, once in the bathroom and once in the woods. The confessed killer was not convicted on the second rape charge because Ms. Ritzer was dead when the act was committed. They also report that she had 16 stab wounds in her neck and was nude from the waist down.
The killer was also convicted on armed robbery charges. He faces two possible life sentences with the possibility of parole in 15 to 20 years – one for the armed robbery of which he was convicted and one for the rape. The judge has the option to order these sentences served either concurrently or sequentially.
The Star Tribune reports that Chism faces the possibility of being convicted of new charges. While awaiting trial for the murder of his teacher, the killer allegedly attacked a Youth Services Worker. Prosecutors say he followed the worker into a locker room and was choking and beating her when other workers intervened. The worker suffered injuries to her face, jaw, neck, and back. Charges of attempted murder and assault and battery have been filed for the incident. That trial will be open to the public.
[Photo by Mark Lorenz/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool]