Mass. teen sentenced to at least 40 years for killing teacher

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Teen Sentenced To 40 Years In Prison For Rape And Murder of Math Teacher

SALEM, Mass., Feb 26 (Reuters) - A Massachusetts judge sentenced a teenager convicted of raping and murdering his high school math teacher to serve at least 40 years in prison, and the victim's father called the killer "pure evil."

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Philip Chism, 17, was convicted in December of killing Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at his suburban Boston high school. The sentence of life in prison, with the possibility of release after 40 years, was less than the 50 years prosecutors had asked Essex County Superior Court Judge David Lowy to impose.

"When something terrible happens, people will often say, 'It could always be worse,'" Lowy said. "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."

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Mass. teen sentenced to at least 40 years for killing teacher
Philip Chism sits in silence while waiting for Judge David Lowy to enter the courtroom during his sentencing in Salem Superior Court, Salem, Mass., Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. Chism was accused of first-degree murder, along with rape and robbery, in the Oct. 22, 2013, slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, Mass. (David Le/The Salem News via AP, Pool)
Peggie Ritzer listens to her husband, Thomas, read his witness impact statement during the Philip Chism sentencing in Salem Superior Court, Salem, Mass., Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. Her daughter, Laura Ritzer is on the right. Chism was accused of first-degree murder, along with rape and robbery, in the Oct. 22, 2013, slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, Mass. (Ken Yuszkus/The Salem News via AP, Pool)
Diane Chism, mother of Philip Chism, sobs while being consoled during her son's sentencing in the murder and rape of Colleen Ritzer, an Andover resident and Danvers High School teacher. The sentencing happened in Salem Superior Court, Salem, Mass., Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. (David Le/The Salem News via AP, Pool) Chism was accused of first-degree murder, rape and robbery in the Oct. 22, 2013, slaying of Ritzer, 24.
Tom and Peggie Ritzer remain in Salem Superior Court in silence after the sentencing of Philip Chism in Salem Superior Court, Salem, Mass., Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. Chism was convicted of first-degree murder, rape and robbery in the Oct. 22, 2013, slaying of the Ritzers' daughter, teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, Mass. (David Le/The Salem News via AP, Pool)
Philip Chism stands in handcuffs as Judge David Lowy enters the courtroom in Salem Superior Court, Salem, Mass., Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. Chism was accused of first-degree murder, along with rape and robbery, in the Oct. 22, 2013, slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, Mass. (David Le/The Salem News via AP, Pool)
Philip Chism sits during his trial in Salem Superior Court, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, in Salem, Mass. Chism is accused of first degree murder, along with rape and robbery, in the Oct. 2013 slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, Mass. (Paul Bilodeau/The Eagle Tribune via AP, Pool)
Philip Chism shown in this still photo from video in the stair well at Danvers High School, during the morning session of his murder trial in Salem Superior Court on Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 in Salem, Mass.Chism is charged with with raping and killing ninth-grade Danvers High School math teacher Colleen Ritzer in 2013, when he was 14, He is being tried as an adult. (Mark Lorenz/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool)
Diane Chism, mother of Philip Chism, keeps her head down as Prosecutor Kate MacDougall speaks to jurors during closing arguments on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Salem Superior Court. The Massachusetts teenager who raped and killed his high school math teacher "knew right from wrong and could choose right from wrong," a prosecutor said Monday during closing arguments in the teen's murder trial. (Mark Lorenz/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)
Defense attorney Denise Regan goes over a time line of events with Danvers Police Detective Sgt. Robert Sullivan during the Commonwealth vs. Philip Chism murder trial in Salem Superior Court on Monday Nov. 23, 2015, in Salem, Mass. Chism is charged with with raping and killing ninth-grade Danvers High School math teacher Colleen Ritzer in 2013, when he was 14, He is being tried as an adult. (Mark Lorenz/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool)
Prosecutor Kate MacDougall shows the utility knife to jurors during her closing arguments in the Philip Chism murder trial in Salem Superior Court on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. The Massachusetts teenager who raped and killed his high school math teacher "knew right from wrong and could choose right from wrong," a prosecutor said Monday during closing arguments in the teen's murder trial. (Mark Lorenz/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)
Abbey Scott a state police chemist shows blood stains on the this red sweatshirt worn by Philip Chism, at Salem Superior Court on Monday, Nov.23, 2015, during his trial in the death of Danvers High School teacher, Colleen Ritzer. Chism is charged with with raping and killing ninth-grade Danvers High School math teacher Colleen Ritzer in 2013, when he was 14, He is being tried as an adult. (Mark Lorenz/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool)
Abbey Scott, a state police chemist, holds a pair of blood soaked jeans worn by Philip Chism, during Chism's murder trial at Salem Superior Court on Monday, Nov.23, 2015. Chism is charged with with raping and killing ninth-grade Danvers High School math teacher Colleen Ritzer in 2013, when he was 14, He is being tried as an adult. (Mark Lorenz/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool)
A video frame grab shown by defense attorney Denise Regan shows Philip Chism wheeling a large garbage can in a hall of Danvers High School, in the trial of Chism for the murder of Danvers High School teacher, Colleen Ritzer, in Salem Superior Court on Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. (Mark Lorenz/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool)
Defense attorney Denise Regan shows a video frame grab of her client, Philip Chism, wheeling a large garbage can along the Danvers High School sidewalk, during morning session of his trial for the murder of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer, in Salem Superior Court on Monday, Nov.23, 2015. (Mark Lorenz/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool)
Massachusetts Superior Court Judge David Lowy, center, is escorted by court officers as he views a scene Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Danvers, Mass., in the murder trial of Philip Chism, The judge viewed the scene near woods in Danvers where the body of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer was found. Chism is accused of first-degree murder in the Oct. 22, 2013 slaying of Ritzer. (Patrick Whittemore/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)
Peggie Ritzer, mother of Colleen Ritzer, wipes a tear away after a photo was shown of her daughter's toe sticking out from a pile of leaves during testimony in Philip Chism's murder trial in Salem Superior Court, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, in Salem, Mass. Chism is accused of first degree murder, along with rape and robbery, in the October 2013 slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, Mass. (Paul Bilodeau/The Eagle Tribune via AP, Pool)
District attorney Kate MacDougall questions Topsfield police officer Neal Hovey about clothing allegedly belonging to murder victim Colleen Ritzer while on the stand in a Salem Superior Court room for the trial of Philip Chism in Salem, Mass., Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Chism is accused of first degree murder, along with rape and robbery, in the Oct. 2013 slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover. (Ken Yuszkus /The Salem News via AP, Pool)
Topsfield police officer Joseph DeBernardo identifies a sweatshirt with what appears to be possible blood stains while on the stand in a Salem Superior Court room for the trial of Philip Chism in Salem, Mass., Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Chism is accused of first degree murder, along with rape and robbery, in the Oct. 2013 slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover. (Ken Yuszkus /The Salem News via AP)
The box cutter owned by Philip Chism that was allegedly used for the murder of teacher Colleen Ritzer is shown on a screen during trial in Salem, Mass., Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Chism is accused of first degree murder, along with rape and robbery, in the Oct. 2013 slaying of Ritzer, 24, of Andover. (Ken Yuszkus /The Salem News via AP)
Philip Chism, left, appears in Salem Superior Court where a judge declared the Massachusetts teenager charged with raping and killing his math teacher competent to stand trial, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, in Salem, Mass. Chism is charged in the October 2013 rape and slaying of 24-year-old Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer. He was 14 at the time but is being tried as an adult. He pleaded not guilty. One of his lawyers, John Osler is at right. (Ken Yuszkus/The Salem News via AP, Pool)
Danvers K-9 poice officer Justin Ellenton displays a pair of blood stained sneakers that were found at Danvers High School as he testifies during Philip Chism's trial in Salem Superior Court, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, in Salem, Mass. Chism is accused of first degree murder, along with rape and robbery, in the Oct. 2013 slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, Mass. (Patrick Whittemore/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)
Assistant District Attorney Kate McDougall, left, glances down at a recycling bin that was introduced evidence during Philip Chism's trial in Salem Superior Court, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, in Salem, Mass. Chism is accused of first degree murder, along with rape and robbery, in the Oct. 2013 slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, Mass. (Patrick Whittemore/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)
Philip Chism, left, appears in Salem Superior Court where a judge declared the Massachusetts teenager charged with raping and killing his math teacher competent to stand trial, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, in Salem, Mass. Chism is charged in the October 2013 rape and slaying of 24-year-old Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer. He was 14 at the time but is being tried as an adult. He pleaded not guilty. One of his lawyers, John Osler is on the right. (Ken Yuszkus/The Salem News via AP, Pool)
In this photo taken Tuesday, June 30, 2015, Philip Chism., right, and his one of his attorneys John Osler listen during a hearing in Salem Superior Court in Salem, Mass. Lawyers for Chism, a Massachusetts teenager charged with killing his high school math teacher, asked a judge on Tuesday to move his trial out of eastern Massachusetts, saying it will be difficult to pick an impartial jury given the large amount of publicity the case has received. (Ken Yuszkus/The Eagle Tribune via AP, Pool)
FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2015, file photo, Philip Chism appears in Salem Superior Court for a hearing in Salem, Mass. Lawyers for Chism, a Massachusetts teenager charged with killing his high school math teacher, have asked a judge on Tuesday, June 30, 2015, to move his trial out of eastern Massachusetts, saying it will be difficult to pick an impartial jury given the large amount of publicity the case has received. (Ken Yuszkus/The Eagle Tribune via AP, Pool, File)
In this photo taken Tuesday, June 30, 2015, Philip Chism is led into Salem Superior Court for a hearing in Salem, Mass. Lawyers for Chism, a Massachusetts teenager charged with killing his high school math teacher, asked a judge on Tuesday to move his trial out of eastern Massachusetts, saying it will be difficult to pick an impartial jury given the large amount of publicity the case has received. (Ken Yuszkus/The Eagle Tribune via AP, Pool)
FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2014, file photo, Philip Chism, right, sits with attorney Denise Regan, left, during a hearing in Essex County Superior Court in Salem, Mass. Chism, 15, has been charged as an adult with murder and aggravated rape in the October 2013 slaying of Colleen Ritzer, math teacher at Danvers High School. Chismâs public defender, Regan, is expected to argue in Essex County Superior Court on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, that police never properly read Chism his Miranda rights and continued to question Chism even after he had invoked his right to remain silent and his mother had asked for a lawyer. (AP Photo/The Salem News, Ken Yuszkus, Pool, File)
Dianna Chism, left, attends her son Philip Chism's hearing in Suffolk County Juvenile Court Wednesday, July 23, 2013, in Boston, where he was arraigned for allegedly assaulting a state worker while he was in custody at a Department of Youth Services facility. Philip has also been charged with murder in connection with the October death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer, after following her to a bathroom. (AP Photo/Boston Globe, Wendy Maeda, Pool)
Philip Chism is escorted into Suffolk County Juvenile Court Wednesday, July 23, 2013, in Boston, where he was arraigned for allegedly assaulting a state worker while he was in custody at a Department of Youth Services facility. Chism has also been charged with murder in connection with the October death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer, after following her to a bathroom. (AP Photo/Boston Globe, Wendy Maeda, Pool)
Philip Chism, 15, from Danvers, Mass., sits with one of his attorneys, Susan Oker, at his arraignment on a second rape charge in Salem Superior Court in Salem, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. Chism has been accused and charged with raping and killing his Danvers High School math teacher Colleen Ritzer in October 2013. (AP Photo)
Philip Chism, 15, from Danvers, Mass., stands with his attorneys, Susan Oker, left, and Denise Regan, right, as he pleads not guilty at his arraignment on a second rape charge in Salem Superior Court in Salem, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. Chism has been accused and charged with raping and killing his Danvers High School math teacher, Colleen Ritzer, in October 2013. (AP Photo)
A mourner reaches out to Daniel Ritzer, brother of slain Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer, as he accompanies his mother, Peggie, out of St. Augustine Church in Andover, Mass., Monday Oct. 28, 2013, after Colleen Ritzer's funeral service. Ritzer, 24, who taught math at Danvers High School, was killed in a school bathroom after dismissal Tuesday, police said. Her body was found in woods behind the school, and student Philip Chism, 14, has been arrested in connection with Ritzer's murder. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Philip Chism, 15, from Danvers, Mass., is led into the courtroom at his arraignment on a second rape charge in Salem Superior Court in Salem, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. Chism has been accused and charged with raping and killing his Danvers High School math teacher Colleen Ritzer in October 2013. (AP Photo)
Parents and Danvers High School students hold candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School, on Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013, in Danvers, Mass. Ritzer's body was found in woods behind the school, and Danvers High School student Philip Chism, 14, who was found walking along a state highway overnight, was charged with killing her. (AP Photo/ Bizuayehu Tesfaye)
Parents and Danvers High School students cast shadows as they arrive at the school to hold a candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at the school, on Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013, in Danvers, Mass. Ritzer's body was found in woods behind the school, and Danvers High School student Philip Chism, 14, who was found walking along a state highway overnight, was charged with killing her. (AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye)
Danvers High School students prepare to launch sky lanterns during a candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at the school, on Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013, in Danvers, Mass. Ritzer's body was found in woods behind the school, and Danvers High School student Philip Chism, 14, who was found walking along a state highway overnight, was charged with killing her. (AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye)
Danvers High School students hold candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School on Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013, in Danvers, Mass. Ritzer's was found slain in woods behind the high school, and Danvers High School student Philip Chism, 14, was charged with killing her. (AP Photo/ Bizuayehu Tesfaye)
Parents and Danvers High School students hold a candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School, on Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013, in Danvers, Mass. Ritzer's body was found in woods behind the high school, and Danvers High School student Philip Chism, 14, who was found walking along a state highway overnight, was charged with killing her. (AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye)
Candles are placed at Danvers High School before a candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School on Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013, in Danvers, Mass. Ritzer's body was found in woods behind the high school, and Danvers High School student Philip Chism, 14, who was found walking along a state highway overnight was charged with killing her. (AP Photo/ Bizuayehu Tesfaye)
Candles and teddy bears are placed at Danvers High School prior to a candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School on Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013, in Danvers, Mass. Ritzer was found slain in woods behind the high school, and Danvers High School student Philip Chism, 14, who was found walking along a state highway overnight was charged with killing her. (AP Photo/ Bizuayehu Tesfaye)
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Chism was a 14-year-old freshman who had just moved from Tennessee when he killed Ritzer, cutting her throat with a box cutter and using a recycling bin to dump her body.

"I will never forgive him. He is evil, pure evil," father Tom Ritzer said. He was one of nine friends and family members of the victim who spoke at the sentencing.

Chism's attorneys had asked the judge to make him eligible for parole when he turned 40.

"Witnesses ... testified that he was nice, respectful, kind," said public defender Susan Oker. "So what happened? We stand here today not understanding."

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Chism's mother expressed sympathy for the Ritzer family.

"Words can't express the amount of pain and sorrow these past two and a half years have been," Diana Chism said. "There is no one who has suffered more than the Ritzer family."

Hours after murdering Ritzer, who had stayed late to help students, Chism was found wandering along a state highway carrying a bag containing Ritzer's identification and the box cutter.

During the trial, defense attorneys did not deny that Chism had attacked Ritzer but contended he was not criminally responsible for his actions due to a long-undiagnosed severe mental illness that was aggravated by the move.

The trial was occasionally delayed by Chism, who was once observed beating his head on a floor, and at another point, refused to return to the courtroom, telling his lawyer he was "about to explode."

(Reporting by Ted Siefer; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Cynthia Osterman)

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