Massachusetts teen pleads not guilty to killing, raping teacher

Reuters
Philip Chism stands during his arraignment for the death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer in Salem District Court in Boston
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Philip Chism, 14, stands during his arraignment for the death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen …

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts teenager pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges he raped, robbed and killed his high school teacher in one of the state's grisliest crimes.

Philip Chism, 14, entered the plea in Salem Superior Court after a grand jury indicted him last month in the killing of 24-year-old math teacher Colleen Ritzer at a school in Danvers, about 20 miles north of Boston, in October.

Prosecutors said Chism sexually assaulted Ritzer with an object and, armed with a box cutter, robbed her of credit cards, an iPhone and her underwear. He allegedly cut the woman in a school bathroom before disposing of her body and going to see the Woody Allen film "Blue Jasmine" at a local cinema.

Dressed in a blue sweater, khaki pants and topsiders and wearing handcuffs and leg manacles, Chism responded to the charges with a quietly uttered "not guilty" before listening, head bowed, to the remainder of the hearing.

The judge ordered him to remain held without bail. His next hearing is set for January 30.

Chism is being charged as an adult for the murder, but his attorney, Denise Regan, has argued he should be tried as a juvenile for the rape and robbery charges - which could affect his sentence if he is found guilty.

Chism, who played on the junior varsity soccer team at Danvers High School, had recently moved to the New England town from Tennessee.

(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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