The teen then discarded the 24-year-old woman's body in a wooded area.
Colleen E. Ritzer agreed to stay after school to help her student. That act of pathological altruism led to her death.
The crime occurred in Boston, Mass.
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Philip Chism, who allegedly told police that he “became the teacher” when he slashed the throat of Danvers High educator Colleen E. Ritzer, goes on trial today for the 2013 killing and could become the first juvenile to be convicted of murder since the state granted parole eligibility to teen killers.
Jury selection in the horrifying case of a promising young math teacher raped, slashed to death and dumped in the woods begins today in Essex County Superior Court in Salem.
If convicted, Chism, now 16, will have a shot at parole in 20 years, or 30, if he’s convicted of first-degree murder with extreme cruelty.
“None of it means he will get paroled,” said Peter Elikann, a criminal defense lawyer and author of “Superpredators: The Demonization of Our Children by the Law.” “But he will come before a parole board .... It’s complicated for all of us, because none of us have seen it in play. This is a new landscape.”
Judge David A. Lowy is not expected to inform jurors of Chism’s sentencing scenario.
“It’s not their business. The judge never informs the jury about potential penalties,” said attorney Michael Doolin, who has represented other juveniles but is not associated with Chism’s case. “The issue for them is, has the defendant committed first-degree murder, second-degree, or is he not guilty? In terms of a case like this, the government is still held to the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Since the sentencing law was revised by the state Supreme Judicial Court in December 2013, 11 juvenile killers previously convicted of first-degree murder and serving life sentences have been granted parole, and 10 were denied, according to state Parole Board records. The parole rate for juvenile killers convicted of second-degree murder is slightly higher.
Chism faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery. His lead counsel, Denise Regan, declined comment yesterday.
Ritzer family spokesman Michael Guilfoyle declined comment on behalf of Colleen’s parents Tom and Peggy Ritzer. They are attending jury selection today.
Chism was a 14-year-old freshman at Danvers High on Oct. 22, 2013, when he stalked Ritzer, 24, into a bathroom after school, according to prosecutors. Her partially nude body was found under leaves in woods near the school.
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