, Salem, MA

Local News

October 24, 2013

Student, 14, charged with murder in teacher's death


“Based on his statements and the corroborating evidence found at multiple scenes at the Danvers High School and surrounding wooded area, (Chism) was subsequently placed into custody and booked for murder,” said the statement.

Blodgett called the slaying “a terrible tragedy,” both for Ritzer’s family and for the school.

Police and prosecutors would not say exactly how Ritzer was killed, or at what time.

During Chism’s arraignment, where he was dressed in what appeared to be a white coverall, his attorney, Denise Regan, repeatedly tried to block the release of details in the case and also tried to convince Judge Matthew Nestor to allow Chism to hide from view behind a screen, saying the publicity would cause the teen “trauma.”

Nestor denied the request, telling Regan, “This is no longer a juvenile proceeding. It’s an adult process.”

Regan filed a series of motions yesterday, including a request for funds to hire a forensic psychologist, Thomas Grisso, to evaluate Chism to determine his competence, in anticipation of a possible defense in the case.

The judge granted the motion for public funds, $3,500, for the evaluation and also allowed her $2,000 to hire a defense investigator.

There has been no official statement regarding the cause of Ritzer’s death.

Although the formal language of the murder charge includes the phrase “did assault and beat,” that language is part of the text of the statute and can refer to any sort of physical contact that causes a death.

Carrie Kimball Monahan, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s office, said prosecutors are limited in what they can say about the case because of rules concerning publicity outside of court proceedings.

Chism, who according to court papers is 6 feet 2 inches tall and 148 pounds, kept his head bowed for most of the proceeding.

In court, seated near another public defender, were two women, one of whom is believed to be Chism’s mother, Dianna. The women left court without commenting.

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