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Mass. teen pleads not guilty to killing teacher

DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press
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Phillip Chism is led into the court room at his arraignment in Salem Superior Court, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Salem, Mass. (AP Photo/The Eagle-Tribune, Paul Bilodeau, Pool)

Phillip Chism is led into the court room at his arraignment in Salem Superior Court, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Salem, Mass. (AP Photo/The Eagle-Tribune, Paul Bilodeau, Pool)

SALEM, Mass. (AP) — A 14-year-old boy pleaded not guilty to murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery charges Wednesday in the killing of his high school math teacher.

Philip Chism is accused in the Oct. 22 death of Colleen Ritzer, a popular teacher at Danvers High School. Ritzer’s body was found in woods near the school with her throat slit and a note reading, “I hate you all.”

Chism had already pleaded not guilty in district court, but the case was moved to Superior Court after he was indicted last month. His attorney agreed Wednesday to a prosecution request that he remain held without bail. The hearing lasted for about 15 minutes. Ritzer’s family and friends filled two rows of the courtroom.

Chism had recently moved to Massachusetts from Clarksville, Tenn.

Police haven’t released a motive for Ritzer’s killing. Chism’s attorney has declined to comment.

Students told police that Chism stayed after school the day the 24-year-old Ritzer was killed. One student who said she had also stayed after school to receive extra help that day said Chism appeared to become upset when Ritzer began talking about Tennessee.

Search warrant documents made public last month described surveillance video that authorities said showed Chism following Ritzer into a school bathroom, wearing gloves and a hood, then later walking out of the bathroom alone.

A short time later, the video shows him pulling a recycling barrel through the school and outside, according to the documents. A recycling barrel was found near Ritzer’s body. Authorities said she was sexually assaulted with a stick.

Chism is charged with murder as an adult.

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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