Testimony Focuses On Philip Chism’s Mental Competency

SALEM (CBS) — Several witnesses who took the stand Wednesday in the trial of Philip Chism gave the court a glimpse into the accused murderer’s mental health.

As Chism’s defense tried to set the precedent that he suffered a psychotic episode at the time of Colleen Ritzer’s murder, jurors heard from Dr. Anthony Jackson, an adolescent psychiatrist who diagnosed Chism with two disorders this October. Jackson said that he did not think Chism was faking his disorders for the sake of the trial.

But prosecutors said that his current diagnosis has nothing to do with his mental state on October 22, 2013, when they claim he murdered Ritzer. They pointed to the fact that Jackson declared Chism mentally competent in June of 2014, closer to the date of the murder than his current evaluation.

Related: Philip Chism’s Former Danvers Soccer Coach Recalls ‘Emotional Turn’ Of Search

Jurors heard from Alejandro Herrera, Chism’s soccer coach in Tennesee, who said he was polite and characterized him as “one of the good ones.”

Another witness, a fellow student in Ritzer’s math class, said that Chism was not paying attention or taking notes in class on the day of the murder, and as a result Ritzer asked him to stay after. She recalled Chism as “friendly.”

Outside of court, jurors boarded buses around noon Wednesday for a trip to observe several locations important to the trial, including the scene of the crime at Danvers High School.

Jurors also visited the store and movie theater where Chism was seen on surveillance video after the murder, as well as the spot in Route 1 in Topsfield where he was arrested.


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