Lawyers for Philip D. Chism contend that his constitutional rights will be violated if he is tried as an adult for the October 2013 rape and murder of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer inside the school.
In papers filed in Essex Superior Court, Chism’s lead public defender, Denise Regan, wrote that a 2012 Supreme Court ruling established the legal principle that teenagers cannot be given the adult sentence of mandatory life without parole if convicted of first-degree murder.
The nation’s highest court ruled that the brain of a juvenile is physically different from an adult brain.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court followed in 2013, with a ruling that juveniles in the state cannot receive any sentence of life without parole, not just mandatory sentences of life without parole.
But Massachusetts law still mandates that juveniles between the ages of 14 and 17 who are charged with murder must be tried in Superior Court and face adult punishments, Regan wrote.
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