BOSTON (CBS) – The family of murdered Danvers teacher Colleen Ritzer said the sentencing of her killer is “unacceptable” and pleaded for change in a recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that prevents juveniles from being sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Peggie Ritzer, Colleen’s mother, said after the sentencing that the family was “personally offended” by the defense’s “repulsive recommendation” that Chism be eligible for parole in 15 years.
In 2013, the Massachusetts SJC ruled that sentencing juveniles to life without a chance for parole is unconstitutional.
Watch Full Statement From Ritzer Family
“Today’s sentence is unacceptable and the laws must be changed. Although we very much appreciate this court’s commitment to seeking justice for Colleen, today’s sentence did not achieve that goal,” Peggie Ritzer said.
She added that “evil cannot be rehabilitated.”
Tom Ritzer, Colleen’s father, added that the SJC’s 2013 decision was “flawed and misguided.”
He called it a “betrayal to all victims and their families.”
Though Chism was only 14 years old at the time he committed the rape and murder, Tom Ritzer said the teen’s actions show he knew the difference between right and wrong.
“Colleen cannot be provided a second chance. And neither should the individual who callously and without remorse took her life,” he said.
Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett also reacted to Chism’s sentence, which came after a morning of victim impact statements.
Blodgett said the family goes forward knowing that at some point they will be forced to sit at parole hearings as Chism attempts to be released from jail.
“This family, who has suffered beyond measure, cannot close the book on this case,” said Blodgett. “They cannot move forward with the knowledge that the person who took their precious daughter’s life is not gone from their lives.”
Friends and family of Colleen Ritzer have created a scholarship for students who plan to pursue a career in education. For more information, visit the Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund website.