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Chism, 15, pleads not guilty on new rape charge tied to teacher's killing

By Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 4:14 PM EST, Thu January 30, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Philip Chism has a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on the additional rape charge
  • It's not clear whether 15-year-old will be treated as a juvenile or adult on this count
  • He previously pleaded not guilty to aggravated rape, robbery, murder charges
  • Authorities say he killed his math teacher at school, then disposed of her body

(CNN) -- After Massachusetts teen Philip Chism pleaded not guilty to rape, lawyers on Thursday discussed whether he should be treated as a juvenile on that count or as an adult, as is the case for the murder charge he's facing in his teacher's death.

Dressed in a dark sweater over a tie and button-down shirt, the 15-year-old Chism looked ahead but did not speak during Thursday's hearing in Salem.

After his lawyer waived a reading of the new charge, a not guilty plea was presented on his behalf on an additional rape charge on which he was indicted last Friday.

Kate MacDougall, a Essex County District Attorney's office prosecutor, did not ask for bail on the new charge, given that Chism already is being held.

That indictment came down three months after, authorities say, Chism killed Colleen Ritzer, 24, his math teacher at Danvers High School.

Police say Chism used a box cutter he'd taken to school to kill Ritzer on October 22 in a girls' bathroom at the school. He pleaded not guilty to aggravated rape and robbery, as well as for murder -- for which he's set to be tried as an adult -- in December.

The additional count of aggravated rape came in the form of a youthful offender indictment. The difference between or circumstances surrounding the two different rape charges was not immediately clear.

The prosecutor, defense attorneys and Judge Howard Whitehead talked about whether Chism should be treated as a juvenile on this new charge or as an adult.

"It's an open issue," said Whitehead, later asking both sides to submit their views to him in writing by March 1.

In addition to this discussion, MacDougall noted that a "substantial" amount of new material related to the investigation was being provided to the defense. Among other things, this included extensive surveillance imagery tied to that tumultuous fall day in Massachusetts' North Shore.

The judge set the next court date for the afternoon of April 7, noting that a pretrial hearing on the case should take place "sometime in late May or early June."

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