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Former Tenn. Teen Accused of Raping, Killing Teacher Challenges 'Adult' Status

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SALEM, Mass. (AP) - A Massachusetts teenager charged with killing his high school math teacher has challenged the constitutionality of a state law that requires him to be tried as an adult.

The teen, Philip Chism, is charged with raping and killing Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, in October. He was 14 at the time.

In a motion filed Monday, defense lawyer Denise Regan argued that the state's "youthful offender" law is unconstitutional. The law requires that those 14 and over who are charged with murder must be tried as adults.

Regan argued that the law creates two classes of children, those charged with murder and those charged with other violent crimes, and violates the right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

Regan asks the court to send the case against Chism, who is now 15, to Juvenile Court.

The defense cites rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the state Supreme Judicial Court that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles are unconstitutional.

A judge is scheduled to hear arguments on the motion Aug. 12.

Ritzer's body was found in woods near the school with her throat slit and a note that read, "I hate you all."

Students told police that Chism stayed after school to receive extra help the day Ritzer was killed.

Search warrant documents describe surveillance video that authorities say shows Chism following Ritzer into a school bathroom, wearing gloves and a hood.

Photo: Globe


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