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Philip Chism’s defense team taps well-known forensic psychiatrist

Philip D. Chism (left) is accused of raping and murdering a Danvers High School math teacher in October 2013.

Associated Press/File 2014

Philip D. Chism (left) is accused of raping and murdering a Danvers High School math teacher in October 2013.

The psychiatrist picked by defense attorneys to testify about Philip D. Chism’s mental state when prosecutors say he murdered and raped a Danvers High School teacher is a veteran practitioner who has testified in other high-profile murder cases and evaluated defendants on death row.

Dr. Richard G. Dudley Jr., who has a private practice in New York City, has met with Chism, who is now 16, more than once, according to an official with direct knowledge of the case.

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Prosecutors allege Chism followed Colleen Ritzer, 24, into a school bathroom and slashed her throat on Oct. 22, 2013, when he was 14. He is also accused of raping her.

Chism is being tried as an adult and has pleaded not guilty. His trial is set for October.

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Among the well-known defendants Dudley has evaluated is Colin Ferguson, who was convicted of fatally shooting six people in 1993 on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train. At trial, Dudley testified that Ferguson was delusional and psychotic at the time of the crime.

“He has a reputation as someone who will not modify his opinion based on who’s paying him. That gives him a level of credibility,” said attorney Ron Kuby, who represented Ferguson. “He’s an extremely polished and persuasive and thoughtful witness.”

Dudley’s resume, which was filed Monday in Essex Superior Court, shows he has worked with adolescents and adults in private practice since 1976. He also has a forensic practice, and regularly acts as a witness in legal proceedings.

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Elsie Chandler, senior trial attorney at Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and director of its Youth Law Practice, recalled first seeing Dudley when he testified about a 15-year-old girl being tried as an adult in New York in the fatal stabbing of another teenager.

Chandler said she was representing another teen charged in the case and initially felt hostile toward the girl Dudley had evaluated.

“I listened to Dr. Dudley talk about that girl’s life and what had led to that moment and I just started to weep,” Chandler said. “It was very sophisticated, nuanced, and backed up by research. He’s the real deal. He’s really kind of the gold standard in this area.”

Like Kuby, Chandler said Dudley can be relied on to give honest psychiatric evaluations.

“I never, never want to hire somebody who’s a shill,” she said. “His opinion is professional and honest.”

In Georgia, Dudley evaluated two inmates on death row, Demarcus Ali Sears and Keith Taylor, according to Atlanta attorney Robert P. Edwards Jr., who represented both men.

Dudley spent three days with both Sears and Taylor on separate occasions, Edwards said.

“He’s an absolutely wonderful psychiatrist who spends an enormous amount of time on assigned matters in assessing his clients,” Edwards said. “There’s so many people who want to politicize and want to denigrate the roles of experts. He really is highly qualified.”

Dudley has also written about a Supreme Court decision that could affect Chism’s case. In 2013, he coauthored a paper about the role families play in defending juveniles after the Supreme Court ruled that automatic sentences of life without parole for juveniles are unconstitutional.

Dudley did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

At a hearing scheduled for Friday in Chism’s case, the prosecution is expected to name the forensic mental health expert it plans to use to evaluate Chism, according to Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett.

The DA’s office also will seek any documents or other evidence Dudley may review while evaluating Chism, she said.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.
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