EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 11, 2014

Secret hearing held in Danvers' teen case

DANVERS — There appears to be controversy between prosecutors and the lawyers representing Philip Chism, the Danvers teen charged with killing his math teacher, Colleen Ritzer of Andover, over where he will be held while awaiting trial. Details of the disagreement were being kept under wraps, however.

After an alleged attack on a female Department of Youth Services worker last week, Chism was hospitalized at Boston Medical Center and then moved to an undisclosed “secure facility,” the Sheriff’s Department said.

Last week, the defense filed a motion in the case, which was sealed by a judge, and on Tuesday, both the prosecution and defense met with Salem, Mass., Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead in a hearing that did not appear on any official court schedule.

The proceeding was held at the side of the judge’s bench at the request of both prosecutor Kate MacDougall and defense attorney Denise Regan.

And despite the judge’s suggestion that the proceeding be conducted in open court, he noted the presence in the courtroom of a reporter, and it appeared that both sides were insisting on remaining out of earshot of spectators.

The discussion, which lasted about 15 minutes, appeared to center around where Chism, now 15, would be held pending trial.

At one point, the judge could be heard asking, “Should I just send him to Bridgewater?” a reference to the state’s prison hospital on the South Shore.

MacDougall was twice heard stating that she had “concerns” about security for Chism.

The outcome of the hearing was not disclosed. At one point, the judge was seen consulting a law book.

While the proceedings and case files in the matter are open to the public because he is being tried as an adult on the murder charge and as a youthful offender on the rape and robbery counts, Chism’s defense has repeatedly sought to treat the case as a juvenile matter.

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