Late last year, 17-year-old Philip Chism was found guilty of brutally raping and murdering his 24-year-old math teacher, Colleen Ritzer. This week, Philip Chism received his prison sentence from a Massachusetts judge. The teen will spend at least 40 years in prison, and possibly much more.
According to Reuters, the large sentence is actually less than what prosecutors were aiming for. Essex County Superior Court Judge David Lowy was asked to sentence Philip Chism to at least 50 years in prison. However, the official term is life in prison, with only the mere possibility of a release in 40 years.
Despite granting the teen a chance at freedom someday, Judge Lowy admitted that the crime Philip Chism committed couldn’t have been much more horrific.
“When something terrible happens, people will often say, ‘It could always be worse.’ It is difficult for this court to imagine what could be worse for an individual and family to endure than the brutal murder of Colleen Ritzer.”
Judge David Lowy. (Photo by Ken Yuszkus/The Eagle Tribune via AP, Pool)
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Philip Chism killed his math teacher when he was only 14-years-old. Security camera footage shows the teen following Colleen Ritzer into the restroom, then wheeling her body out to the woods in a recycle bin. Philip Chism “repeatedly asphyxiated” the teacher, slit her throat with a box-cutter, raped her, mutilated her body, dumped it in the words and left a note that said “I hate you all.”
He was found by police walking along a highway carrying the box-cutter and Colleen Ritzer’s identification.
Nine of the victim’s family members spoke at Chism’s sentencing, including her father, Tom Ritzer.
“I will never forgive him. He is evil, pure evil,” he said of Philip Chism.
The mother of Philip Chism also spoke at the sentencing, making a point to show that she understands the pain her son caused.
“Words can’t express the amount of pain and sorrow these past two and a half years have been. There is no one who has suffered more than the Ritzer family.”
That family believes Philip Chism didn’t deserve a chance of parole, according to the Boston Globe. The victim’s mother, Peggie Ritzer, claims she was “devastated and betrayed” by the judge’s leniency.
Lowy took the suggestion made by Philip Chism’s attorneys, who requested he be eligible for parole after 40 years. They acknowledged Philip’s guilt, but attributed the heinous crime to a diagnosed mental illness. The teen had just moved to Massachusetts from Tennessee, a stressful change that his defense attorneys claim triggered the violent attack.
“Witnesses… testified that he was nice, respectful, kind,” said one of Chism’s defenders. “So what happened? We stand here today not understanding.”
Claims of mental illness were seemingly verified by several outbursts Philip Chism made during the trial. He was seen repeatedly slamming his head against the floor, and once claimed that he couldn’t go back into the courtroom because he was “about to explode.”
District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett told reporters that anyone convicted of first-degree murder should be sentenced to life without parole, regardless of the circumstances. But the judged imposed the minimum sentence for a juvenile convicted of first-degree murder, which includes parole eligibility after 25 years. That was increased to 40 years due to a rape and robbery charge. All three sentences will be served concurrently.
If Philip Chism is not granted parole after 40 years, he will remain in prison indefinitely.
“The Commonwealth takes no pleasure in asking for this sentence for someone who is 14 years old,” said Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall. “Simply put, these are crimes that make one’s soul ache. [Philip Chism] is capable of moving among us… while something very dangerous and scary is lying beneath the surface.”
Do you think Philip Chism got the sentence he deserved?
[Photo by Ken Yuszkus/The Salem News via AP, Pool]