Analysis of the prosecution’s case against Philip Chism

Danvers High School ...item 1a.. Pictured: Boy, 14, 'caught on camera dragging teacher's body into woods' (23 October 2013) ...item 1b.. UPDATED: 16:55 EST, 21 November 2013 ...

Creative Commons on Flickr by Marsmettn Tallahassee

Friday, November 22, 2013

Good afternoon:

Go to this link to read the 9-page affidavit filed in support of the application for a search warrant in Philip Chism’s case. Warning: Contains graphic details.

Today I am going to analyze the prosecution’s case against Philip Chism and ask readers to indicate which of three alternative ways of proving first degree murder they would select, if they were to prosecute this case.

The prosecution is not limited to proving only one theory. Separate verdict forms can be submitted as to each alternative way of proving first degree murder. To convict him of first degree murder, the prosecution need only prove one alternative. Proving one, two or all three alternative methods of committing a crime only proves one crime and only one sentence may be imposed for that one crime.

Even though Philip Chism is only 14-years-old, he will be prosecuted as an adult because Massachusetts has a statute that mandates the prosecution as adults of all juveniles over the age of 13 who are charged with murder. If convicted, he cannot be sentenced to death because Massachusetts does not have a death penalty.

He also cannot be sentenced to life without possibility of parole (LWOP) because the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has prohibited sentencing juveniles under the age of 16 to LWOP.

He cannot be prosecuted as an adult for the charges of aggravated rape and armed robbery unless the juvenile court declines jurisdiction. Therefore, he will have to be arraigned in juvenile court on those charges.

After the arraignment, the prosecutor will file a motion asking the juvenile court to decline jurisdiction and to transfer those two charges to adult court for adjudication on the grounds that, if convicted, the court lacks the resources to rehabilitate him before he turns 21 and the alleged crimes are an inextricable part of a single criminal episode that includes the murder over which the juvenile court lacks jurisdiction. Readers can reasonably expect the juvenile court will grant the prosecution’s request.

Philip Chism will be arraigned on the three charges in adult court. Pleas of not guilty will be entered on his behalf and his counsel will be provided with discovery.

Eventually, he will have to decide whether to go to trial and contest the charges or plead guilty.

Every defendant in a criminal case has a right to be presumed innocent and go to trial, even if he committed the crime(s) charged, and the jury must be instructed to return a verdict of not guilty as to each charge, if the prosecution fails to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

Given his confession that is confirmed by the videotape from a hallway camera showing him entering the women’s bathroom while wearing a jacket, hat and gloves and departing sometime after that with her body in a recycling bin, little doubt exists that he killed her while acting alone.

First degree murder in Massachusetts is defined by Chapter 265, Section 1 as:

Murder committed with deliberately premeditated malice aforethought, or with extreme atrocity or cruelty, or in the commission or attempted commission of a crime punishable with death or imprisonment for life, is murder in the first degree.

Notice that there are 3 ways to commit this crime:

(1) Murder committed with deliberately premeditated malice aforethought;

(2) Murder committed with extreme atrocity or cruelty; or

(3) Murder committed in the commission or attempted commission of a crime punishable with death or imprisonment for life.

Analysis of the statute

The prosecution may be able to prove that he committed the murder by each of the following three methods.

He came to school with a box cutter, balaklava ski mask, gloves and multiple changes of clothing strongly suggesting that he premeditated the murder with malice aforethought.

The second option does not require proof of intent to kill or premeditation, if the murder itself demonstrated extreme atrocity or cruelty. The use of a boxcutter to slash her throat from behind while gripping her hair and pulling her head back suggests extreme atrocity or cruelty as would the use of the box cutter ante mortem to penetrate and slash her vagina (see below).

The third option is a felony-murder rule that does not require proof of intent to kill or premeditation, if the murder occurred during the commission of a felony that can result in a life sentence. Aggravated rape and armed robbery are felonies that can result in life sentences, so a murder committed during the commission of either those felonies would be a first degree murder.

Aggravated rape requires proof of penetration of the vagina, no matter how slight, with the penis or finger(s), or an object and proof of the use of force or threatened use of force. Massachusetts defines penetration of the mouth or anus as “unnatural sexual intercourse.”

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt of any of the following three felonies will satisfy the use-of-force element:

(1) assault with a dangerous weapon; or

(2) robbery; or

(3) armed robbery.

According to the news report last night, the prosecution has alleged that he penetrated her vagina with an object. If the object is the box cutter used ante mortem, that would likely establish that the murder was committed with extreme atrocity or cruelty.

Her body was found in the woods supine with her legs spread and a tree branch inserted into her vagina. Since this staging occurred post mortem, it should not be considered as evidence establishing that the murder was committed with extreme atrocity or cruelty.

Police also found a note with the body that said, “I hate you all.”

If you were prosecuting this case, which alternative way of proving first degree murder would you choose (assuming you had to choose one)?

Or, which alternatives are the easiest and weakest to prove and why?

Here’s a link to a Boston Globe story about the affidavit.

89 Responses to Analysis of the prosecution’s case against Philip Chism

  1. Found a very interesting article about the two types of personalities of child murders ”non-empathic murderers” and ”sexual-identity conflict murderers”.
    The “sexual-identity conflict” These boys were often taunted for effeminacy and carried a weapon because they lacked physical confidence. They came from homes where the mother was dominant and the father, if present, was passive. Their murders, though done in passion, had often been subtly encouraged by a parent. New York University School of Medicine Dr. Lewis and her colleagues believe the violent, often homicidal father is the most significant factor in explaining the child’s homicidal aggression. Often the homicidal child has witnessed his father’s violence against the mother. The researchers also found that homicidal children were much more likely than others to have mothers who had been psychiatrically hospitalized and fathers who were alcoholic.

    Upon reading the article I would say that Philip Chism is a sexual identity conflict murder THAT CAN AND SHOULD BE REHABILITED.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1983/10/11/science/children-who-kill-personality-patterns-are-identified.html?smid=pl-share

  2. bettykath says:

    A huge crush on the teacher that she deemed in appropriate is possible. He saw her as “a girl”, not as a teacher/adult/authority figure. She was 22, attractive, and approachable.

  3. fauxmccoy says:

    i still cannot bring myself to read the affidavit for chism.

    i will note that his age, 14, is one at which a number of psychotic conditions start to make their presence known, specifically schizophrenia and bi polar disorder. either of these can lead to hallucinations, paranoia and ideation of suicide and/or homicide. i also wonder what, if any, medications he may have been taking. so many children (regardless of his 6’2″ frame, he still has the brain of a developing child) are prescribed adult anti depressants which have serious contra indications for teens.

    more shall be revealed.

  4. bettykath says:

    OT but yet on almost all topics….

    http://guardianlv.com/2013/11/kkk-member-walks-up-to-black-musician-in-bar-but-its-not-a-joke-and-what-happens-next-will-astound-you/

    excerpt
    A lot of people have anti-racist groups. They get together and meet and have a diverse group and all they do and sit around and talk about how bad discrimination is. Then someone says ‘there’s a Klan group across town. Why don’t we invite them to come and talk to us?’ and the other person says ‘Oh no! We don’t want that guy here!’ Well, you’re doing the exact same thing they are. What’s the purpose of meeting with each other when we already agree? Find someone who disagrees and invite them to your table.

    Invite your enemy to talk. Give them a platform to talk because then they will reciprocate. Invite your enemies to sit down and join you. You never know; some small thing you say might give them food for thought, and you will learn from them. Establish dialogue. It’s when the talking stops that the ground becomes fertile for fighting.

    • Rachael says:

      That was interesting!

    • MDH says:

      The system uses fear and ignorance of the other to manipulate us.

      That wonderful article brings to mind the chapter in All Quiet on the Western Front in which the German rifles through the effects of the French soldier he had killed and realizes he is just another man like himself who, if not of the idiocy of war, would be someone he could have had as a friend in that there was so much they had in common.

      Back to the article.

      It astounds me that there are white people that ignorant about music.

      I was watching a documentary about white supremacists to be amused by a scene where they have the Kingsman’s version of Louie Louie blasting away. Did they not know that this tune was penned by a black musician from New Orleans?

      Besides that tune is a whole lot more danceable when the rigid four beat is tossed.

      My favorite:

      I believe this version was produced by Leslie Kong. Kong’s products are characterized by brilliant backing musicians, as is evidenced by this tune. Kong is a not to well known producer whose contribution to music is monumental.

      • fauxmccoy says:

        @MDH … i always enjoyed the irony of people thinking that kurt cobain was the first person to sing ‘where did you sleep last night’. it was not new to me as i grew up listening to the original leadbelly. it was fun breaking it to them that there was nothing new about ‘grunge’. 😉

        • colin black says:

          Noel Gallagher tells of a fan whom pleaded with him to explain the lyrics an meaning off I AM THE EGG MAN ….

          An how did he get the inspiration to write it an why was it not on any Oasis Albums an only played live???

        • MDH says:

          I was astounded that there were youtube comments that the Beatles wrote “you really got a hold on me”, which was a Smokey Robinson creation. The did it well, IMO.

          However, Derrick Harriot gave it some soul.

          I love to trace great tunes that are well covered.

  5. colin black says:

    On the other hand, he might have staged her body to make it look like a serial killer committed the murder.

    But what 14-year-old thinks that way?

    ‘@

    Come on Prof you were an adolencent 14 year old yout not in the to distant past.

    Have you forgotten the thought you know it knre it all angst

    How Parents are just old am know an understand nothing?

    Where as you as the 14 year old pre madon or madona have all the answers an know it all.

    Its as if HISTORY DID NOT START UNTILL YOU ARRIVED ON THE PLANET?

    A hangover from babyhood as all Baby literly think the world evolves around them .
    An in ideal BABYHOOD The world should evolve around about them..
    But some teenagers think it still does an the type of teenager does this easy .

    The type of narrsistic self efaeing totally heartless spoiled misogynistic evil kid whom listens non stop .
    To Metal Marlyn Manson thinks Nihlistics souds cool man

    An wants the fame an not erity of his actions to be veeiwed with disgust an hate .

    Its a turn on for this coward whom is so self centred an cowardly he cant bear to self hsrm with a personalty of empty pitts like that Jodi Arrias Biach they are capable of no end of depravity.

    I watched an episode of the first 48 hours tonight a 16 year old kid jumps on a bus travels 4 miles on a bus gets his 15 year old girlfriend to sneak out her window middle of the night an executes her with two 25 calibre head shots.
    Because he heard voices on the cell phone of boys voice in the background an thought she was cheating on him.
    Plus she was 3 mnths pregnant with is child?
    An the voices he heard ?
    Were youtube tape playing there was no cheating it was all in his head.

    Kids today are capable of being just as depraved ass adults that’s why cases like this have to be hiked up to adult courts.

    You commit an adult crime you should do adult time.

    Ive had to walk an exercise yard with murders rapeists as a prisoner in H M P I was on the book not because Id ever commited a heinous crime like murder or rape but because I was a known absconder.
    Or in he system your classes as an escapee..

    Actually very beneficial to be on the book or classed as an E Cat prisoner wich same level as security as an A Cat Prisoner ie top security.

    First bonus guaranteed a single cell wich Is a luxury In jail.

    You see worst thing about imprisonment Isnt loss of movement confeinment pre ce or even the screws gaurds.

    No worst thing about prison is the other inmates prisons are misery Factory an what they manufacture is desperation hate an anguish an worst off all shamefull joy , Sadenfreud where one can actually revel an feel a level of relief In another human beings misery….

    An when you reach that level believe you me you have hit rock bottom.

    An I mean feelings like ok Im locked up 16 moon left nae cakw walk but geezer Im talking to is never going to see freedom again .
    An that makes you feel better.

    Though the majority of other prisoners are a pain in the arse the worst thing is you must integrate at some level .
    Otherwise youd be in constant conflict.

    So the abilty to have a single cell to lock is to me an escape.

    Some people went nutz being banged up me I couldn’t wait for the privacy time to read or listen to the radio write letters .

    Also as I was an E Cat I dint have to mix genral population an other bonus as far as I was conserned less idiots to meet.

    An as The other prisoners I did mix with were either other escape risks like myself or A Cat meaning they wer in for some serious bird .time.Murderers mostly

    An the youngest guy was one of the worst .

    Correction definetly the worst an I shared the yard an recreation with guys that were famous nitionaly Keith Rose was one an John Cannan another he was a suspect in The Suzie Lamplugh disaperance .
    An was in for abduction an murder K Rose was In for a double murder .

    But the creepiest by far was this young guy turned 18 In the jail whilst on remand anhe told me in gory detail about his double murder.

    He travels to Stonehenge every year they have a Music Festival..

    He arrives the night before speeding out his nut on ampetimines he rekons.

    He has no tent just a rucksack sleeping mat sleeping bag an he goes around the camp site were pon a young couple are smokeing hash an doing acid..They invite him round there cap fire an they have a VW With a tent an say he can sleep In the van.

    He insists then that he was spiked by them with some weird drug that they were Satanists an intended to sacrifice him.
    An had just been pretending to be kind souls.some how he knew this .

    So he walked around the site an acquired a huge carveing knife from outside some barbecue pit a an also the nut job found an axe.

    Im sure you can gues the rest,.

    He retuned and made sure thease imagined alleged Satanists were not going to have there way with his tripping his ball off nutjob ass.

    Yup kinnda puts ones life Into objective walking round a yard every day for an hour with plusable luatics I called them.

    Bec ause for your own well being an safety every thing they told you.

    You reacted In a way as OK no biggie sure thing good for you fella wehave all been there you know Satanists an camper vans lurking every where.

    An you walk back in sit back In your cell breathe out an relax.

  6. lurker says:

    On this one I can only be deeply grateful that I am not the prosecutor for I can see no possibility of justice here. The crime itself is far too atrocious for our understanding, and any understanding we may have can only point back to possibility of profound abuse of this child very early on–as an infant. He should be secluded for the rest of his days, except perhaps for conversations with a spiritual advisor or therapist.

  7. bettykath says:

    Speculation: The stressful divorce and the events around that might have set him up. A Black mother and a white father are assumed. White father rejects Black mother and bi- son who is also seen as Black, further complicated by father taking up with white woman/women. If racial epithets were used during moments of stress, this could set up a hatred in him for white women, especially one who references TN (= white father) in positive ways.

    Scenario is based on NO factual information provided so far except for the “stressful divorce”.

  8. bettykath says:

    (1) Murder committed with deliberately premeditated malice aforethought;

    This would be the easiest to prove given the box cutter, the mask, the gloves and the changes of clothing and that he followed her into the bathroom wearing the mask and gloves and carrying the knife.

    (2) Murder committed with extreme atrocity or cruelty; or

    This would be more difficult if the sexual aspects, cutting her vagina and penetrating it with the tree branch, and the sexual posing, all occurred after death. If I understand the information, these acts were all committed after her death so she would have been unaware of them. But an autopsy of her body may show that she was still alive when he cut her vagina.

    (3) Murder committed in the commission or attempted commission of a crime punishable with death or imprisonment for life.

    This doesn’t apply. The primary crime was the murder, not an incidental to another crime. Punishment by death doesn’t apply in MA. He committed no other crime that would have resulted in imprisonment for life.

    • Have to disagree with you on #3 because the murder was committed during the commission of the aggravated rape (i.e., rape while threatened with a knife). Both occurred in the bathroom and are part of the same criminal episode. The maximum sentence for aggravated rape is life in prison.

      Agree that the robbery appears to have been an afterthought and premeditation likely is the easiest to prove.

  9. Kelly Payne says:

    Something is seriously wrong with this kid.

  10. Trained Observer says:

    Off topic: Rene Stutzman has UPI on her resume … but clearly in Trayvon’s murder is no Merriman Smith when it comes to digging for and weighing elusive info.

    Total Domination
    When JFK was struck down by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas, UPI’s Merriman Smith owned the story, trouncing the rival AP. Some view it as the finest deadline reporting of the century.

    http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=1672

  11. I am perplexed by the premeditated, violent and horrific nature of this crime followed up by going to a movie theater to watch Blue Jasmine (which most 14-year-olds would not be interested in or comprehend), dinner at Burger King and a nighttime N/B stroll up a state highway in the S/B lane.

    I suppose he went to the movie theater hoping to establish an alibi and bought a ticket to the first available show without caring what it was. He would have sat through it even if he hated it so that he could describe it, if questioned about it.

    The stroll up the highway may have been a form of passive surrender to his fate hoping that a S/B semi would end his life.

    I have no idea why he selected her. Ritualistic murder is serial killer behavior.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Colleen Ritzer is not his first victim.

    • On the other hand, he might have staged her body to make it look like a serial killer committed the murder.

      But what 14-year-old thinks that way?

    • Trained Observer says:

      Had been struck by how Blue Jasmine (limited run in comparative small number of theaters nationwide) would be statistically about the last movie any kid, much less someone so disturbed, would pick or even have an opportunity to choose. Agree, it was a “next available” selection, and doubt he has the slightest comprehension of what it was about.

    • Dave says:

      I agree that the movie was just a random choice. I think he just wanted to sit undisturbed in the dark for a while.

    • crazy1946 says:

      Professor, In this case I fail to see any logical explanation for the murder! We know virtually nothing about this child, and are only giving opinions and making assumptions at this point. I think to make any real sense, that is if there is any to be found, we will have to take a hard look at his life prior to the murder, especially his time in Tennessee, along with a hard look at his parents and what and if they did anything that could have caused this child to do what he did. I find it odd that a child of 14 could have known to grab her by the hair and pull while cutting her throat, was he exposed to this knowledge on TV or? Have we seen any comparisons to the victim and defendants sizes? Was he larger and heavier than she was?
      In the matter of how to prosecute the case, I don’t see that it will matter which one of the three to utilize, if all the evidence they have released so far is valid and provable then they can use which ever option they wish and still receive a conviction.. The question in my mind is how could an attorney come up with a defense for this child?

      • I’ve said several times that there must be a back story in Tennessee.

        Odd that his mother called 911 and reported him missing when she did. Hitting the panic button so soon suggests a level of hyper-concern that is unusual.

        The defense of insanity won’t work because his premeditation, planning and efforts to conceal his involvement in the crime demonstrate that he knew what he was doing was unlawful and he would suffer serious consequences, if caught.

    • owl says:

      indeed, it was remarkably odd for him to have selected the movie theatre as a destination.
      he could walk there, however, and would past fast food chains in the area. i believe he also discarded a cell phone outside of the theatre.
      he apparently had no transportation, and so likely made his way to the two-lane, busy road where he was ultimately found walking after dark. where else could he go? not home. he could wander or hide.

  12. Serial killer stuff, posing the body and all…

  13. Two sides to a story says:

    Um, okay, blech, I read the affadavit.

    I don’t think juveniles should ever be prosecuted as adults, nor should they be housed in the adult prison population or with your average juvenile offenders. I think states need to address this issue of extremely violent crimes by juveniles (hopefully this isn’t a growing trend, but it could be) and create a subsystem in which these offenders are processed and treated. That doesn’t help any of the cases that are occuring now, like Chism’s.

    Massachusetts has an interesting history with their juvenile justice system – lots of corruption and abuse within “reform schools” in the past with authorities having to step in. . At one time, children could be incarcerated for as little as being “a stubborn child.” See New York Times Book Review. Stubborn Child. Mark Devlin. Atheneum, 1985. http://www.nytimes.com/1985/07/05/books/books-of-the-times-098679.html.

    There are other books and also news links on the history of the juvenil system in MA, but I don’t want to stick a bunch of links in one comment, so you can google various search terms to find these. I have a friend with an upcoming memoir about growing up in one of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods, his criminal escapades, and time spent in juvenile reform schools during the 1950s. I’ll release more information closer to publication.

  14. Dave says:

    Maybe Trooper LaBarge stated that the killer is biracial as a way to take race out of the equation. That is, if Chism share’s (at least partially) his victim’s racial identity this couldn’t be a racially motivated hate crime.

    • crazy1946 says:

      Dave, I respectfully disagree, simply because anyone who reads the evidence as presented thus far, would have had no reason to suspect racism played a part in the murder. I don’t see how anyone could logically consider that this murder was race related. If there was no connection of race to this murder, why did Trooper LaBarge feel the need to introduce race into the equation? If I have missed something that in your opinion suggests that race was a factor in this case, please explain it to me, for like I said, I do not see it…

      • Dave says:

        I don’t have any particular reason to believe that race was or was not a factor. The fact that a young “white” female schoolteacher was murdered by a young “black” male could cause some violent backlash and it would be best to stay away from possible racially based motives unless necessary. The established facts of the case should be enough to put Chism away.

        Anyway, I believe that Trooper La Barge only mentioned Chism’s biracial identity twice: first as basic identifier and second when describing the color of thebare butt observed by the female student.

        • crazy1946 says:

          Dave, Ok, let’s describe the crime this way!

          The fact that a young “white” female school teacher was murdered by a young “white” male….

          Now can you dispute that my description is just as accurate as yours? While both accurately describe the child, which one presents a racial image in the description? Now if you can come back and give me compelling evidence that this was a racially motivated murder, I will issue you a formal apology, until then I will stand by my words..

          What you did is common, you probably, because of the color of his skin assigned the black reference to him, ignoring the “fact” that he is not black but instead is bi-racial and could just as well be called white! Only by choosing to assign a black label to this child will it become a racial issue… Totally unnecessary…

          • Dave says:

            I’m not assigning racial labels at all. As any anthropologist will tell you, race is an arbitrary social construct with no scientific basis. That’s why I used quotation marks around “white” and “black”. Based on appearance, most “white” people would probably regard Chism as “black” (like our “biracial” President). As I said, referring to him as “biracial” tends to take race out of the equation which is probably a good thing.

          • Dave says:

            BTW I never said or implied that I believed that this was a racially motivated murder.

    • The linked documents list him as “white.” Maybe on the missing persons report filed by his mother.

  15. crazy1946 says:

    I do have one comment to make at this time. I find it strange that the person who wrote the request for the search warrant as shown on the linked site, Trooper LaBarge, seemed to go out of his way to state that Philip Chism was Bi-Racial, I could (almost) understand if it in any way could have a bearing on the case and the crime was committed because of racial intent, but that does not seem to be present in this case. It causes me to question the integrity of the investigation by this man. This case is disturbing enough with out introducing race into it as Trooper LaBarge has done…

    • Two sides to a story says:

      I wonder if Trooper LaBarge is an Obama supporter or an Obama hater. I do think that race is usually reported in police reports though, although generally in an info slot about the perpetrator, not as part of the crime narrative.

      • crazy1946 says:

        two sides to a story, My guess is that he is probably not an Obama fan, but as I said that was just a guess! Race listed in the report in the section that describes the suspect is to be expected. But please notice this is not the crime report, this is a request for a search warrant! Mention the bi-racial point once and I would have simply ignored, but it is mentioned several times and IMO serves no purpose that would serve the interest’s of the state seeking justice in this case… Perhaps there is a racial element to this murder that they have not released information on, but until they do I will have to stand by the words I wrote questioning the motives of Trooper LaBarge in introducing race into this case… Personally I think this case will be emotionally charged enough as it is without adding gas to the burning fire…

    • owl says:

      I’ll choose #2.
      It is a fact that P Chism is bi-racial, and came to a predominately white community to attend school just several months prior to allegedly committing this heinous act.
      He wrote: “I hate you all.”.
      Then, again, he allegedly attempted a similar attack on a worker at the facility where he was detained; the attack was interrupted.
      He is an evil presence whom has visited fear upon a community where we once felt safe. Like Columbine and Sandy Hook, what he has allegedly done was once unthinkable; there is no rehabilitation for the monster accused of such despicable crimes against the innocent.
      I guess I can’t sit on that jury.

      • crustyolemothman says:

        owl, While it does seem strange that you have chosen to respond to a post that is about nine months old, I do feel that your response is quite valid and deserves a response. I have kept up to date on this case and as you mention, this young man has indeed attempted another murder upon one of his caretakers. Like you, I do feel he is and will probably always remain a danger to society, and the likelihood of any remote degree of rehabilitation will never occur. The only part that I would question is how his race has a bearing on his actions? Is it your thought that because of his mixed race he was destined to become a killer? Or perhaps because some people have the image fixed in their minds that all black men are killers? Please realize that I am not saying that is what you are thinking, only that those are a few of the things that we heard during the investigation. I have thought extensively about the circumstances around this case, but have yet to find a definitive link that would tie his racial heritage to his acts. However, I will not pretend to be an expert on motivation of bi-racial youths to commit criminal acts. If there is some racial motivation behind his acts, please take a moment and provide them. I would welcome the opportunity to gain a little more insight into that area.

        • owl says:

          hello, crusty, and sorry for the seemingly random reply; i just jumped in here, but follow the case locally.
          mention of any race /color / ethnicity does not infer motive, but i believe mention should not be excluded from reporting.
          the Columbine and Sandy Hook massacres were perpetrated by white males. just factual info.
          i do believe Chism’s background prior to arriving in MA might explain his motivation to allegedly commit this crime, and his psychological profile may include some inner racial confusion and tension. he said: “i hate you all.”

          • crustyolemothman says:

            owl, No need to apologize for the random reply, this case still has many twists and turns that lack explanation. I will agree to a point that the mention of the racial heritage of the suspect is of interest to many people and the press is some what obligated to follow the wishes of their intended audience. However, what we are discussing at this point in the over all discussion was not the press, but the police reports and the request for a warrant, and there is a place on the forms submitted by the officer for the race of the subject to be marked, I would even suggest that a single mention of the race of the suspect in the body of the report could be considered acceptable, but to repeat it more than a few, could cause questions to be raised as to possible racial prejudice. Racial prejudice has absolutely not place in the criminal justice system and to invoke the race of the suspect/subject could cause prejudicial treatment of the individual named. You do make a very valid observation in regards to his background, I am not aware that any thing was ever released (probably due to his age) that would allow us to have a serious look at his background. I can only ask how many 16 year old kids have you been around recently, because you make such an issue out of that “I hate you all” comment, if I had a dollar for every time I have heard a young person say that phrase, I could buy a pretty nice car with the money… In all honestly, I don’t think we will ever know what led this young person to commit this atrocious act.. I actually would question if he even knows why he did it… The best we can hope for is that he will never be released to kill again… You are also correct in the statement about the murderers involved in the Columbine and Sandy Hook massacres being white, but then again if you remember most of the mass murderers found in history have been white, with very few exceptions. Sorry if this response in somewhat disjointed, I was attempting to do several things at once, at it seem at my age I am having difficulty with uni-tasking much less multi-tasking…

          • owl says:

            crusty, ty for your reply, once again. hmmm, let me explain how “i hate you all.” might be interpreted without supporting details, but in the context of the evidence of a slaughtered, young female teacher.
            you’re right…”i hate you all” might not be an uncommon utterance by any teen.
            a likely troubled young man, who also happens to be bi-racial, is delivered to an almost all white, suburban school system in the fall of his 9th grade year.
            how difficult it must have been to feel included; the transition to a new school, in the best of circumstances, is never easy.
            “i hate you all.” may or may not reference his social isolation. i trust his troubles, and the triggers, were deeper and more complex than the school environment.
            and, again, you are right…even he may not know what his primary motivation was to allegedly commit this vicious crime…and then attempt it again.
            i believe he will be fairly judged, without prejudice, by the system for acts committed, and not for being non-white.

          • crustyolemothman says:

            owl, Like you, I feel his problems began long before the move to your area from Tenn., and the transition to the new school, while perhaps adding to his problems, was at the root of his mental problems. I suspect that we will never have the opportunity to know the story behind the “story”. IMO, he will never go to trial and will instead be placed in mental care for the rest of his life, if they convict him in court, the possibility that he will eventually be returned to freedom is too great for the prosecutor to risk…

          • owl says:

            absolutely! i missed the obvious…the disposition may be commitment to a mental health facility.

        • Mixed racial ancestry does not predispose males to rape and kill.

          • crustyolemothman says:

            Professor, Good evening… I will agree with that statement totally. I often wonder where people get the idea that racial heritage has any real bearing on violent crime. I do realize that some of the perception of racial violence is due to political posturing and control, of the masses, however the power of control will at some point shift and freedom will overtake this nation…

          • owl says:

            i agree.
            respectfully, however, i’ll add that i hope the day returns when a formal or informal identification of someone’s race / age / gender is not interpreted to imply guilt.
            while i choose to self-identify my gender and ethnicity on various documents, i pause to think i may risk being excluded from opportunities for not being a selected or protected minority.
            perhaps the (alleged)
            commission of a crime does not and should not include the privilege of exercising that option, but, of course, reporting by authorities should be consistent for all.

        • owl says:

          just further, crusty, i trust Chism’s motivations are either unknown, or are not, yet, reported.
          by accounts made public, his potential to commit such a heinous crime was never imagined. quiet, athletic, and reasonably engaged in the school community, just some months after his arrival, did this violence shake this suburb north of Boston.
          interestingly, you will likely never see public outcry or outrage because of his race here; just shock, sadness and, perhaps, heightened fear that our schools may be unsafe in ways we could never imagine.
          there will very likely not be implied racial accusations. only to the extent that this young man might have suffered from his own demons, and only in the context that his personal struggles have included racial tension would that context be significant.
          he will not, otherwise, be pre-judged for being identified as “bi-racial”. justice for the victim, and safety for the community will be the best outcome.

          • crustyolemothman says:

            owl, From you words, is it safe to guess you live in the area near where the murder occurred? I’m glad to hear the thoughts of someone local, simply because it adds a dimension we seldom have access to, that being the effect that the incident has on the local population. There are a lot of good things involved in our modern instant communication between points far apart. One of the things that most forget is the cultural environment in one area is often quite different than in other parts of this nation. While the race of this young man causes little concern in your area, in some parts of this nation the mere mention of the racial heritage of a suspect or victim causes great distress and in some cases civil unrest. Hopefully at some point in this nations history we will get past that, but unfortunately the problem is still with us today. I must commend your community for being mature enough to accept that other than some possible internal difficulties he had to deal with, that race was not actually a factor in this case. There is no doubt that this young man did suffer his own demons, while many of us are curious what could have led him to commit the acts, do we really have the need to know? Would that knowledge be for the benefit of society or would it merely satisfy some morbid curiosity that we all seem to possess to some degree? I am sure that it would be of use to the mental health care industry, and perhaps in some small way the criminal justice system, but that is where I think the only true benefit of the knowledge gained from this mans mental history.

          • owl says:

            actually, crusty, there was a point when a decision was made to release the horrible details of how the teacher was brutally murdered; i was hoping they would not have done so.
            i think the most important feature of the discussion is that a quiet young man who was never suspected to have criminal intent could have planned and committed such a crime in a public school environment.
            and, that by virtue of his years he was a child, but the alleged crime was exceedingly heinous and more representative of an adult act of violence.
            while it is too late for the young woman whose life was taken, i hope some good can possibly come from professionals being alert to the potential for one-on-one and mass violence in schools and on college campuses.
            and i do believe that, unlike many other places in our country, liberal MA is proudly racially tolerant.

          • crustyolemothman says:

            owl, Much like you I did not feel a need to hear all the gory details of this murder. I do, like you, hope that any knowledge gained in the investigation is used to in an effort to prevent future similar incidents from occurring. I must commend the citizens of your area for the racial maturity that they possess. Unfortunately too many other areas do not share the same level of maturity that your area does. Hopefully at some point in time they will.. I would love to continue this discussion, but I do have a few errands that I need to take care of this evening, but if you wish to write again tomorrow I will be glad to continue this discussion.. Have a good evening..

  16. Dave says:

    Is I was prosecuting the case I would want to make absolutely certain that this murderer would never walk free again. I don’t really care a rat’s ass what his background was or what “drove” him to commit this vile, horrific crime. The prosecution’s goal should be to protect the public from him until the day that he dies. Since neither capital punishment nor life without parole is an option, I would go for option (2)–extreme atrocity and cruelty, making sure that the public hears every horrifying detail, night after night, and thus assuring that the freeing of this….person….is political suicide for anyone responsible.

    • Rachael says:

      I have to agree with you. It doesn’t matter, as you said, what drove him to it. Oh, that is interesting, for sure, but I’ll tell you this, his young age is NO reason to go easy, in fact, even more reason to make sure he never is in public again. It seems to me someone this you who could do something THIS horrific is beyond repair and society really needs protection. Not saying he doesn’t deserve whatever help he can get for whatever is “wrong” with him, but society needs to know they are safe from him.

  17. Rachael says:

    I feel so bad for his parents too. I don’t know what happened in Tennessee that was so upsetting – I don’t know if they knew, should have known, didn’t do anything about it or did; I don’t know if they thought something might happen one day or they didn’t, but even if they did, I’m sure they would never have imagined it to be this horrific. I don’t know what I would do if my child had done this. My condolences to the family wouldn’t be enough, and I’d feel I’d failed my child. I think I would want to stand by him because he is my child, but how could I? Where do his parents go for support?

  18. Rachael says:

    OMG, I haven’t even looked at your link yet – just what you wrote is so horrifying, I don’t know if I can!!1

    • Don’t read it, unless you want to.

      • Rachael says:

        I read it.

      • crazy1946 says:

        Professor, I have read it twice, and I still can’t believe a young person like Philip Chism could be capable of such a heinous crime. I have no doubt that he did, only that a child could do this in the manner it was done. Once I recover from the shock of reading the facts of the case, I will attempt to answer the questions in your article… All I can do right now is ask, why, why, why……

        • Two sides to a story says:

          What a nightmare. I don’t know if I can stomach it either. How does anyone, let alone a 14-year-old, have this much anger?

  19. fauxmccoy says:

    oh dear god, that is so horrific, i don’t think i can bear to read the affidavit, but will attempt to do so later today. that poor, poor woman 😦

  20. crazy1946 says:

    The more we learn about this case, the stranger it gets….

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