A teenager accused of raping and killing a math teacher at his high school in 2013 was found guilty by a Massachusetts jury Tuesday.
Philip Chism’s defense argued that he was suffering from a psychotic episode when he killed Colleen Ritzer, who had asked Chism to stay after school so she could give him additional help. A psychiatric, who testified for the defense, said that Chism was hearing voices during the killing. Chism was 14 at the time, while Ritzer was 24, as reported by Reuters.
Tried as an adult, Chism faces possible life in prison.
Thomas Ritzer, the teacher’s father, said of the verdict, “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. There remains a tremendous absence in our lives, one that sadly can never be replaced.”
Peggie Ritzer, Ritzer’s mother, said, “We will carry on and do our very best to find the good in every day.”
Assistant District Attorney, Kate MacDougall, told jurors in her opening statement that Ritzer was pursuing her dream job as a math teacher at the Danvers High School. As reported by ABC News, the incident occurred on October 2013, when Ritzer asked Chism to stay after school. According to another student who also stayed behind, Ritzer started talking to Chism about how he found the new community compared to his old town of Clarksville, Tennessee. Chism became upset and Ritzer changed the subject, the student said.
After some time, Ritzer left the classroom and – in a video shown to the jurors – she could be seen going to the bathroom down the hallway. Some seconds later, Chism poked his head out of the classroom and looked down the hallway. He went back inside and emerged with his hood on. He put on a pair of gloves and walked into the bathroom. After a few minutes, he could be seen coming out of the bathroom carrying the pants Ritzer was wearing.
Later, a bloody box cutter, mask, gloves and a hooded sweatshirt were discovered by the police in his backpack.
A status hearing to discuss the sentencing has been scheduled for December 22 by Judge David Lowy.