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November 19, 2013

Judge waives Chism appearance Friday

DANVERS — The Danvers teenager charged with murdering his math teacher at Danvers High School last month won’t be in court Friday, after a judge agreed yesterday to waive Philip Chism’s appearance during a hearing that is scheduled for that day.

That was among several developments in the case yesterday and late last week, when prosecutors turned over a list of some of the evidence against Chism, 14, to his attorney — including a tape of Chism’s interrogation, surveillance video from a second movie theater Chism may have visited after the slaying and photos of what was described as a “cleaning appliance” at Danvers High School, according to court papers.

Prosecutors are expected to obtain an indictment against Chism this week, which would obviate the need for Friday’s scheduled probable cause hearing. Instead, it is likely that Chism’s next court appearance will be in Salem Superior Court for arraignment on whatever charges the grand jury hands up. He has been charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 22 slaying of Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover.

The grand jury hearing for the case was in session yesterday and is expected to be back at work tomorrow and Thursday.

Also yesterday, Chism’s lawyer convinced a prosecutor and a judge to allow her access to the sealed search warrant affidavit in the case, on the grounds that while the public may not be entitled to view the impounded document, she, as Chism’s attorney, is.

Defense lawyer Denise Regan filed the motion yesterday. It was granted by Judge Matthew Machera.

Earlier this month, another Salem District Court judge, Michael Lauranzano, extended an impoundment order barring the release of search warrant materials, which are normally public records, until Nov. 22; Regan, who had not yet reviewed the materials herself, said yesterday that she does not know whether she will seek to extend that order.

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