Judge Tosses Confession in Teacher-Murder Trial for Philip Chism
Philip Chism appears in Salem Superior Court for a hearing on a motion by the defense to bar use of statements made after Chism's mother requested a lawyer, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, in Salem, Mass.Ken Yuszkus / The Eagle Tribune via AP file
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A judge on Tuesday ruled that an alleged confession from a Massachusetts teen accused of killing his teacher in 2013 cannot be used at his trial over doubts that he was aware of his rights.
The decision to toss the alleged confession police say was given by Philip Chism, 16, also means that cell phone evidence obtained after that police interview is inadmissible, NBC station New England Cable News reported.
Chism is accused of slitting the throat of his math teacher, Colleen Ritzer, in a bathroom at Danvers High School on Oct. 22, 2013. Her body was discovered in a wooded area near the school along with a note reading, "I hate you all." She was partially naked and an indictment claims Chism sexually assaulted her.
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The judge ruled that it was "readily apparent" that Chism’s mother wanted an attorney to be present before he was questioned and allegedly confessed to the killing. The judge also was not convinced that Chism was paying attention when he was read his Miranda rights, NECN reported.
Ritzer’s family said in a statement they believed prosecutors will still be able to prove Chism is guilty. Chism is charged with murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery.
"Our family is grateful to the many members of law enforcement who tirelessly searched for our daughter and sister, Colleen. We respect the court ruling and we are confident that law enforcement acted responsibly and lawfully," the Ritzer family said in a statement given to NBC News. "We are also confident in the ability of the District Attorney's Office to successfully prosecute the individual charged with this horrific crime so that justice is served for Colleen and our family."