Massachusetts teen accused of murdering popular teacher to face trial

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Trial to Begin for Teen Charged in Teacher's Rape, Killing


Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday morning in the trial of a former Massachusetts high school student accused of raping and murdering his teacher in a suburban community north of Boston.

Philip Chism, 16, is charged with the murder of Colleen Ritzer, who was a popular math teacher known for her upbeat personality at a high school in Danvers, a town of 26,000 about 20 miles (32 km) north of Boston. Ritzer was 24.

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Prosecutors say that on Oct. 22, 2013, Chism, who was 14 at the time, was upset by a conversation he had with Ritzer, his algebra teacher. He followed her into the bathroom after school, cut her throat with a box cutter, and transported her body off campus in a recycling receptacle, prosecutors charge.

Ritzer's body was found in nearby woods with a note reading, "I hate you all."

Chism has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys are expected to present an insanity defense.

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The defendant, who was known as quiet and a talented soccer player, was described at the time as being under emotional strain after relocating to Danvers from Tennessee with his mother following his parents' divorce.

Chism is being charged as an adult under Massachusetts law for first-degree murder. He has also been charged as a juvenile for two counts of aggravated rape and armed robbery. Prosecutors say Chism took Ritzer's credit card and used it to buy fast food and go to a movie at a nearby mall.

Prosecutors are expected to present surveillance video from Danvers High School showing Chism following Ritzer into the bathroom and leaving pulling the recycling barrel. Chism initially provided a taped confession, but Judge David Lowy has barred its admission on the grounds that Chism wasn't sufficiently aware of this rights and was pressured by police.

Jury selection at the Essex County Superior Court is expected to take at least a week, with opening statements expected later in the month, according to prosecutors.

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