Chism's sentences for murder and rape will run concurrently

By Greg Hanlon
Updated February 26, 2016 02:55 PM
Credit: Ken Yuszkus/The Eagle Tribune via AP, Pool, File

Philip Chism, the Massachusetts teen convicted last December of murdering and raping his math teacher, was sentenced to life in prison years with the possibility of parole in 25 years for the murder and 40 years for the rape.

He will serve at least 40 years because his sentences will run concurrently, Judge David Lowy said.

Chism, now 17, was 14 in 2013 when he strangled and raped 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer. Chism then stuffed Ritzer’s body in a recycling barrel and dragged her to the woods outside the school, where he sexually assaulted her using a tree branch.

His sentence was the maximum allowable under the law because he was a youthful offender. Prior to sentencing, he faced a sentence of life in prison with parole eligibility after 15 or 25 years. He sat stoic as Lowy rendered the verdict.

Lowy said before handing down the sentence that Colleen Ritzer s slaying was “brutal and senseless,” and “the crashing waves of this tragedy will never wane.”

Mother: ‘He is Pure Evil and Can Never Be Rehabilitated’

Before the sentencing on Friday, nine people, including Ritzer’s mother, father, brother and sister, read personal statements to Judge Lowy, CBS Boston reports.

Peggy Ritzer, Colleen’s mother, said of Chism: “He is pure evil and can never be rehabilitated,” according to The Salem News.

She said, “Now I isolate myself from people I love because pretending being to be happy is so difficult.”

She added, “Colleen was a caring and loving young woman full of life and a beloved teacher.”

Ritzer’s father, Tom Ritzer, also testified. “A dad’s job is to protect his family,” Tom Ritzer said, according to “I didn’t protect Colleen. A dad’s job is to fix things. I would do anything to fix Colleen.

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Prosecutor: ‘These Are Crimes That Make One’s Soul Ache’

During his trial, the defense acknowledged that Chism committed the crime, but said he had severe mental illness and that he has suffered from a psychotic disorder since he was 10. However, he was tried as an adult after being deemed fit to stand trial.

Chism’s lawyers cited defense expert witness Dr. Richard Dudley, who testified that he believed Chism has heard voices in his head since he was 10.

Dudley testified that when he raped and killed Ritzer, Chism “was not a kind, smart 14-year-old boy. He was responding to the terrible command of the hallucinations in his head.”

At sentencing, defense attorney Susan Oker told the judge, “The sentences imposed must allow for the possibility of consideration of release.”

She added, “Philip Chism will change and mature and the understanding of what he did may grow and become clearer.”

Prosecutor Kate MacDougal told the judge that Chism was a danger to society and women, saying, “This case, and these crimes, go far beyond heartbreaking and horrifying.”

She added, “These are crimes that make one’s soul ache.”