Prosecutors continued to pile up evidence against Philip Chism Monday in the teenager’s murder trial, showing the jury his bloodied clothes, bloodstained hand, and footage of him using his slain teacher’s credit card to buy a movie ticket.
A young girl who spotted then-14-year-old Chism in the bathroom of Danvers High School where the murder allegedly occurred also took the stand, saying she thought she saw someone changing, not a brutal assault.
Chism, now 16, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, rape and robbery in the stabbing death of his math teacher, Colleen Ritzer. Ritzer, a 24-year-old in her second year teaching at Danvers, had asked Chism to stay after school on Oct. 22, 2013. Prosecutors showed video of Chism following her into a girls’ bathroom just before 3 p.m. that day.
Her body was found in the woods near the school, bloodied and partially undressed.
Nobody heard or saw anything unusual that day at the high school. Even Danielle Bedard, a student who walked into the bathroom for a moment during the 11 minutes that Chism and Ritzer were inside, didn’t notice anything unusual.
She said she saw a dark-skinned naked butt, and thought someone was changing. She quickly left the bathroom, thinking nothing more of it, she testified.
In the hours after the murder, Chism walked for miles. Video showed him buying a ticket at the Liberty Tree Mall AMC theater, nearly three miles away from the high school. He was also caught on camera shoplifting a scuba knife from a nearby BJ’s Wholesale Club, which he was found with hours later by police.
Through all those travels, though, Chism apparently never washed his hands. The morning following the attacks, a Massachusetts State Police criminalist found visible human blood on Chism’s left palm.
The criminalist, Abbey Scott, also testified that clothing found on Chism and in the woods near Ritzer’s body had lots of human blood on them. A pair of women’s underwear found in Chism’s backpack when he was arrested had blood and two sperm cells on it.
Chism’s defense attorneys admitted their client did all he’s accused of in their opening statement. Their defense centers on the irrationality of the teenager, who they say was experiencing a psychotic break, as they argue for a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict.
While questioning a Danvers police detective, defense attorney Denise Regan pointed out Chism’s actions after the attack. His clothes were bloody, she said. He was barefoot. At times he wore a mask covering his face, while other times he appeared to look straight at the cameras.
Testimony was suspended until Monday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Judge David Lowy told jurors he expects them to get the case on Dec. 11, much quicker than originally anticipated.
Attorneys returned to the courtroom at 2 p.m. Monday to discuss pending motions, including whether the prosecution’s expert witness, Dr. Robert Kinscherff, could testify.
The defense had argued that Kinscherff based much of his opinion on Chism’s videotaped confession, which was ruled inadmissible in court. The judge ruled that the doctor can testify.
Also at issue was a conversation captured on school cameras between Ritzer and a fellow teacher the afternoon of the murder. Prosecutors want to show it and have the teacher, Sarah Giaquenta, testify that Ritzer told her she never asked Chism to stay after class, contrary to other testimony. That would contradict the defense’s assertion that Ritzer asked Chism to stay after school, and that their conversation triggered Chism to commit the murder.
“She thought he might just be there to make a connection,’’ prosecutor Kate MacDougall told the court. “She didn’t know why he was in her classroom.’’
A decision on how much of the video can be shown and what Giaquenta can say in court will be decided at a later date.