Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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Mass. teen guilty of rape, murder of math teacher

A Massachusetts teenager has been convicted of raping and murdering his math teacher when he was 14, the Associated Press reports, here via the Los Angeles Times.

On October 22, 2013, Philip Chism, now 16, followed his ninth-grade algebra teacher at Danvers High School, Colleen Ritzer, 24, into a school bathroom, strangled her, stabbed her at least 16 times, and raped her, the AP reported.

Ms Ritzer’s final two tweets:

Mr Chism was tried as an adult on two counts of aggravated rape but was acquitted of the second count. He was also charged with and convicted of first-degree murder and armed robbery in connection with the crime.

“This guilty verdict, while the beginning of justice for Colleen, is certainly no cause for celebration, as there can never be true justice for the crime committed,” the AP quoted Thomas Ritzer, Colleen’s father, as saying after the verdict was read in Salem Superior Court. “There remains a tremendous absence in our lives, one that sadly can never be replaced.”

Under federal law, convicted murderers cannot be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole if they were under 17 at the time they committed the crime, following a recent Supreme Court ruling. Massachusetts law would ordinarily impose a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole on anyone found guilty of first-degree murder.

The defense conceded that Mr Chism had killed Ms Ritzer but argued that he was insane at the time of the killing. The prosecution countered that argument, successfully, by asserting that “not one single person in this courtroom … wants to believe that a 14-year-old boy could have done this and not be crazy. But doing something so awful does not make you crazy.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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