Documents in Mass. teacher’s slaying remain sealed

Nov 8, 2013, 7:10 PM

SALEM, Mass. (AP) – A Massachusetts judge rejected a bid Friday by news organizations to unseal search warrant documents in the case of a 14-year-old boy accused of killing his high school math teacher.

Philip Chism is charged in the Oct. 22 slaying of Colleen Ritzer, 24, a teacher at Danvers High School.

Several media organizations, including The Associated Press, asked a judge to make the documents available for public view.

But Salem District Court Judge Michael Lauranzano denied the request, finding that release of the documents now _ specifically, a search warrant affidavit prepared by a state trooper _ would likely affect an ongoing grand jury investigation and invade the privacy of Ritzer’s family.

Lauranzano agreed with prosecutors, who argued during a hearing Monday that releasing the names of students who will testify before the grand jury could prompt the press to interview them, which could influence their testimony.

“Some of these witnesses are not equipped to handle the media attention that will be drawn to them as soon as their identities are revealed,” Lauranzano wrote.

Lauranzano also said he considered the fact that the Ritzer family only recently learned of the “sensitive nature” of some of the information in the state trooper’s affidavit.

“This occurred only a few days after Ms. Ritzer’s funeral. Release of this information now, without some additional time for the Ritzer family to come to terms with this horrific event, seems to me to be unconscionable,” Lauranzano wrote.

The order sealing the documents will stay in effect until Nov. 22, when the grand jury investigation is expected to end.

Michael Grygiel, an attorney who represented the AP in arguing to make the documents public, said he was disappointed by the ruling.

“We understand the ongoing grand jury investigation and privacy interests implicated in this tragic case, but respectfully disagree that they should override the public’s presumptive right of access to the search warrant materials, which are public court documents,” he said.

Attorney Peter Caruso Sr., who represented The Eagle-Tribune and The Salem News, said “wholesale secrecy to home search warrants opens the door to unabated police and district attorney actions.”

“The public remains in the dark,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Authorities say Ritzer was killed after school dismissal. Blood was found in a school bathroom and her body was later discovered in woods behind the school.

One of Chism’s classmates has said she overheard Ritzer ask Chism to stay after school when she noticed him doodling in class.

Chism has pleaded not guilty. He had moved to Massachusetts from Tennessee before the start of the school year and played on the school’s junior varsity soccer team.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - Mega Millions lottery tickets and a wager slip are displayed, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Derry...
Arizona Sports

Drawing nears for $700M Powerball prize, 10th biggest in US

Another huge lottery jackpot will be on the line Saturday for players willing to put up $2 vs. daunting odds of actually winning the prize.
2 days ago
Chinese spy balloon flies above in Charlotte NC, United States on February 04, 2023. The Pentagon a...
Associated Press

US downs suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast

The United States on Saturday downed a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites.
2 days ago
A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. The huge, high-alt...
Associated Press

Chinese balloon soars across US; Blinken scraps Beijing trip

A Chinese balloon sailing across the U.S. drew severe Pentagon accusations and sent excited or alarmed Americans outside with binoculars.
3 days ago
Protesters march Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn., over the death of Tyre Nichols, who di...
Associated Press

6th officer fired after beating death of Tyre Nichols

A sixth Memphis officer was fired Friday after an internal police investigation showed he violated multiple department policies in the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols.
3 days ago
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Denver Court throws out Wyoming doctor’s pill convictions

A federal appeals court on Friday threw out the convictions of a doctor accused of overprescribing powerful pain medication and ordered a new trial for him.
3 days ago
A hiring sign is displayed at a restaurant in Rolling Meadows, Ill., Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. America...
Associated Press

A surprising burst of US hiring in January: 517,000 jobs

WASHINGTON (AP) — For nearly a year, the Federal Reserve has been on a mission to cool down the job market to help curb the nation’s worst inflation bout in four decades. The job market hasn’t been cooperating. Consider what happened in January: The government said Friday that employers added a sizzling 517,000 jobs last […]
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Documents in Mass. teacher’s slaying remain sealed