The Danvers teen accused of raping and murdering his high school math teacher pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to violently attacking a female clinician at the youth detention center where he was being held.
Philip Chism, 15, was indicted on charges including attempted murder by strangulation, assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He was arranged as a youthful offender meaning his case was open to the public and he faces sentences that an adult would face if convicted.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Zanini said the June attack at the Dorchester Department of Youth Services facility happened as Chism sat at a table to study because he refused to go to class. Zanini said Chism purposely sat in a seat he was not assigned to in order to give himself a better view of a staff hallway. Noticing that a nearby staffer had his head down working on other things, Chism allegedly crouched down and made his way toward a staff locker room where a 29-year-old DYS clinician had just entered.
As the clinician opened the door to the bathroom she found Chism standing there, facing her, about a foot away. He immediately put both of his hands around her neck and began choking her before pushing her hard against a cement wall, Zanini said. The woman was able to break Chism's right hand off of her neck and began to scream for help as Chism began punching her in the head with his free hand, Zanini said. Other staffers who heard the screams responded and were able to restrain Chism. The woman later discovered a scratch on her back and a small hole in her shirt about the size of a pencil, which prosecutors said Chism was carrying at the time of the attack.
Chism's attorney Denise Regan did not argue a request to hold Chism on $250,000 bail or the conditions of his bail. He is already being held for last year's murder of Colleen Ritzer and is unlikely to be released. Chism has pleaded not guilty in that case.
Chism, dressed in a blue dress shirt and khaki pants, walked into the courtroom in shackles. Four court officers stood around the teen during the hearing. He kept his head down as Judge Terry Craven read him the conditions of his bail. When she asked him if he understood he continued to look down and answered "yes."
Chism's family members attended Wednesday's hearing and were ushered in and out of the courtroom through a rear door. A woman collapsed near the rear door and could be heard wailing after the hearing. Court officers asked everyone to leave the courtroom at that time.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.