The contents of Philip Chism’s cellphone have not been revealed to the public, but have now been turned over to his defense attorneys, Denise Regan and Susan Oker. Chism, 15, has been accused of raping, robbing, and murdering his math teacher, Colleen Ritzer, 24, late last year. Reportedly, this piece of discovery filled 4 CDs, which were given to the defense and will be reviewed by an expert.
Police have said that Chism admitted to killing Ritzer, but denied sexually assaulting her. Chism is being held without bail and was not present at the pretrial hearing held on Tuesday. Police and prosecutors allege that Chism is “minimizing” his actions and they assert the evidence does not support his statements. In January, state police investigators obtained a warrant for Chism’s broken Samsung smartphone suggesting that it was possible that he destroyed his phone because he “posed” Ritzer’s body in a sexual manner and may have “memorialized” his crime in photos.
Another major issue in the case is how to proceed with Chism’s case where some of his charges were filed against him as an adult and others as a “youthful offender”. Both sides indicated in the hearing that they are not interested in an advisory opinion from an appeals court. Judge Howard Whitehead has expressed concern about there being no legal guidance on whether the two cases should be tried together or not. The judge suggested the issue be reported to an appeals court for advice, delaying the proceedings, which neither side wishes to do.
Prosecutor Kate MacDougall also revealed that they still have some discovery to give the defense including DNA tests, which have not been completed, but the bulk of discovery has been turned over. The prosecution is also awaiting a report by the Secret Service forensic evaluation of some evidence. The defense told the judge they will need all of the evidence before preparing evidentiary motions.
The defense filed motions seeking access to more information, including a map of the security cameras at the high school and copies of everything found in their client’s locker and backpack. Oral arguments on these requests have been set for May 19th. Chism will not attend that hearing either.