Thursday, December 31, 2015

Chism's Conviction

I didn't follow the trial that closely, nor did I watch the video; however, the Globe did:

Video in court shows Chism follow victim into bathroom
Haunting video shows Chism after Danvers murder

"Philip Chism refuses to return to court during murder trial" by Laura Crimaldi Globe Staff  November 17, 2015

SALEM — The murder and rape trial of Philip D. Chism was halted Tuesday after the 16-year-old defendant refused to return to the courtroom, allegedly declaring from the courthouse lockup that he was buckling under stress and was “about to explode.”

I think that is why I shied away.

The development came on the second day of testimony in the case of Chism, who is accused of murdering math teacher Colleen Ritzer in a girls bathroom at Danvers High School in 2013. 

I'm just giving you what I read.

A similar episode last month delayed jury selection for three weeks while Chism was evaluated for his competency to stand trial.

In the latest interruption, court officer Paul Gaeta said Chism would not enter the courtroom in Essex Superior Court after a recess.

“I can’t take this anymore,’’ Gaeta quoted Chism as telling him. “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
Peggie Ritzer, mother of slain teacher Colleen Ritzer, testified Tuesday.

Defense lawyer Denise Regan gave a similar account of her exchange with Chism.

“He’s shaking. He’s twitching. He’s mumbling,’’ Regan said. “He said he’s about to explode and he doesn’t want to hurt anyone.”

What, is there no court security? Judge can't order him removed or restrained?

She asked Judge David A. Lowy to order a clinician to evaluate Chism to determine whether he was fit to continue with the proceedings.

Lowy called for a recess and said he planned to observe Chism himself. After checking on him out of view of courtroom spectators, Lowy said a mumbling Chism was on the lockup floor with his eyes closed. He said Chism refused to speak with him or his lawyers.

I'm sorry, but I'm not buying the act.

The jury was sent home for the day. Lowy asked them to return Wednesday and instructed them not to speculate about Chism’s absence.

“You cannot know the reason,” he said.

Lowy summoned Dr. Virginia Merritt, a psychiatrist, to the courthouse to examine Chism. Merritt wrote a 67-page report on Chism’s mental state after Lowy ordered him to undergo a competency evaluation last month at the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital.

Based on her findings, which are impounded, Lowy declared Chism fit to stand trial and resumed jury selection earlier this month. Opening statements and the first witnesses testified Monday.

Chism’s refusal to enter the courtroom, Lowy said, did not appear to be a sign that the teenager had lost his ability to understand the proceedings and help his defense team. Rather, the judge said Chism appeared to balking in protest.

“I don’t have anything before me to stop this trial and go down that road,” Lowy said.

Court adjourned Tuesday around 4:10 p.m. without an update on Chism’s condition. Proceedings are scheduled to resume Wednesday.

Chism, who was 14 years old at the time of Ritzer’s death, is being tried as an adult for murder and as a youthful offender on aggravated rape and armed robbery charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

The defense has said it plans to mount an insanity defense.

And this plays right into it.

During opening statements, Regan told jurors that Chism was recently diagnosed with a psychotic disorder and is being treated with medication.

That explains a lot!

The prosecution says Chism acted with “deliberate premeditation” when he brought a ski mask, box cutter, and gloves to school on Oct. 22, 2013, and attacked Ritzer after class.

Chism refused to leave the courtroom lockup while Danvers Police Officer Justin Ellenton was preparing to resume his testimony.

Ellenton, an officer in a canine unit, went to Danvers High the night of Oct. 22, 2013, to search for Ritzer, who had been reported missing by her family after she did not return home from work. Ellenton described how his police dog, Falco, discovered a recycling barrel, blood-soaked sneaker, and purple tote in the woods near the school.

The prosecution alleges that after attacking Ritzer in the school bathroom, Chism used a recycling barrel to take her body to the woods and then violated her with a tree branch. Investigators found her body buried under leaves early on Oct. 23, 2013.

Ellenton testified that when he looked into the barrel, he saw blood on the walls and noticed several books inside were also soaked with blood.

Essex Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall speculated that Chism might have refused to return to the courtroom because he knew the prosecution planned to present more evidence related to the recycling barrel.

“I’m very concerned about the timing of this,” she said. “He is not in charge of this process. I’m concerned he thinks he is.”

It's called adolescence.


Related: Chism Goes Silent

Other things I chiseled out of the Globe:

Student recalls slain teacher as ‘great person’ during Chism trial

Philip Chism seemed down after teacher’s death, friend says

Chism, part of a Christian youth group, “seemed down in the dumps,” but his mood appeared to brighten talking about the church group. 

Oh, no. He was a religious nutty!

Official describes brutal injuries to Colleen Ritzer 

I started reading that and couldn't continue. Sorry.

As for the first day of the defense’s presentation, Chism was seen as “very outgoing, and then all of a sudden he just got very quiet and changed completely.’’

Philip Chism in grips of psychosis, psychiatrist testifies

Defense expert says he thinks Chism had psychotic episode

Expert says Philip Chism expressed remorse for killing

Chism faked extent of mental illness, psychologist testifies

Philip Chism faked extent of mental illness, psychologist testifies

Closing arguments set for Philip Chism case

Final arguments focus on motivation for Philip Chism to kill

Jury finds Philip Chism guilty of first-degree murder

Judge has wide leeway in Chism sentencing

Judge says Philip Chism was competent throughout his trial

It must be the area of the country or state from which he came:

"Federal data released this month shows that the risk of being killed by homicide is lowest in New England and the upper Midwest, and highest in the deep South, particularly Louisiana and Mississippi."

Does that include those killed by cops?

UPDATE: Federal judge blocks Arkansas abortion law for 2 weeks

Also see:

DA wants Chism to serve at least 50 years in prison

Chism sentenced to at least 40 years; family calls it ‘unacceptable’

Runners and walkers honor slain Danvers teacher