SALEM (CBS) — Philip Chism, once an enthusiastic soccer player, became quiet and withdrawn in the days leading up to the murder of his math teacher Colleen Ritzer, his classmates testified Tuesday.
After an emotional morning of testimony from family and friends closest to Chism, the 16-year-old asked the judge to waive his presence at his murder trial. Chism has previously asked not to be present during testimony but then changed his mind.
Chism’s grandfather called him a “beautiful soul,” and said Chism’s grandmother and aunt both had a history of mental illness.
Defense attorneys have acknowledged that Chism, who was 14 at the time, killed Ritzer, but say Chism is mentally ill.
A psychiatrist diagnosed Chism with a psychiatric disorder during a psychiatric evaluation that initially delayed the start of the trial, according to the defense. They asked the judge Tuesday to allow the psychiatrist to testify in the case.
On Wednesday, the jury is scheduled to visit the Danvers High School bathroom where Chism killed Ritzer. They will also visit the movie theater that Chism visited after the murder.