BOSTON (CBS) – It was a shocking crime two years ago inside Danvers High school, and now the murder trial of 16-year-old Philip Chism is underway in Salem Superior Court with jury selection.
He’s accused of murdering and sexually assaulting his popular math teacher 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer.
Chism was a high school freshman at the time. Authorities say Ritzer’s throat was slit with a box cutter and her body was dragged to woods behind the high school in a recycling bin. Chism allegedly left a note saying, “I hate you all”.
Now the defense is hinting it will focus on the teen’s mental state at the time. His lawyer Denise Regan wouldn’t comment when asked if she plans to use the insanity defense. But she has revealed plans to call psychiatric experts to the stand and Wednesday Judge David Lowy instructed prospective jurors about criminal responsibility.
The final panel of twelve men and women will have to determine if Philip Chism is a ruthless killer or a confused teenager. Already Judge Lowy will not allow Chism’s alleged confession to the crime to be entered as evidence.
Chism reportedly told Danvers police it was a “trigger” word from his teacher that prompted the killing saying, “After she insulted me that’s when I became the teacher.”
Chism is being tried as an adult, but his attorneys are asking the judge not to allow him to be photographed in court because of his age.
Nearly half of the 115 jurors questioned today were dismissed.
A lengthy four pages of potential witnesses were also released. Among those who could be called to testify are Colleen Ritzer’s parents and students.