Sixteen-year-old Philip Chism can stand trial for the murder of 24-year-old Danvers math teacher Colleen Ritzer, according to Judge David Lowy’s ruling in Salem Superior Court earlier today.
Chism is being tried as an adult on charges of robbery and murder. In court for the first time since mid-October, he had closely cropped hair and wore a button down shirt, tie, and dark blue sweater. Chism appeared to stare down at his hands as Lowy announced his conclusions after reading a report prepared by mental health experts.
"The court finds that Mr. Chism has sufficient presence and ability to consult with his attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him,” Lowy said.
Lowy went on to deny the defense’s request to move the trial to another location. Chism’s attorney, Denise Regan, argued media coverage on the two-year anniversary of Ritzer’s death has biased local jurors. Lowy disagreed, but said if it becomes apparent a change of venue is necessary, he’ll order one.
Opening statements may begin as soon as November 16.