A former college art professor has pleaded guilty to attempting to kill her colleague during a “four-hour torture session,” in which she bludgeoned the victim with a rock, garden shears, and a fire poker.
According to WWLP, a local Springfield, Mass. news station, Rie Hachiyanagi (above) was found guilty of nine charges relating to the incident that took place on Christmas Eve in 2019, including three counts of armed assault with intent to murder a person over 60, three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a person over 60, and one count each of home invasion, mayhem, and entering in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony.
The 50-year-old’s alleged victim was fellow Mount Holyoke College professor Lauret Savoy, whom Hachiyanagi reportedly confessed her love to as she beat her.
During a change of plea hearing on Friday, Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Matthew Thomas said Hachiyanagi knocked on Savoy’s door two years ago claiming to be distraught and in need of emotional support after a recent breakup. After the geology professor let her in and turned her back, however, she was attacked by Hachiyanagi in what the victim called a “four-hour torture session.”
Hachiyanagi reportedly straddled Savoy — who had simply thought of the then-art professor as a friend in the years since they met in 2005 — as the attacker told the victim that she “had loved (her) for years.” During the attack, Hachiyanagi allegedly punched the geology professor, saying she should have known about her stronger feelings. She went on to repeatedly tell Savoy that she would be blinded, disfigured, and then murdered.
Savoy pretended to love Hachiyanagi back during the attack in hopes of convincing her to call 9-1-1. She was finally able to do so four hours later, persuading Hachiyanagi to call for help just after midnight on Christmas Eve.
Police said they arrived to find the geology professor laying in a pool of blood inside her Leverett, Massachusetts, home with several broken bones and puncture wounds. Chillingly, Hachiyanagi reportedly lied to responding officers, claiming she arrived at the house to find her friend “barely breathing” after an unknown intruder broke in.
On Friday, Savoy told the court about the emotional and physical turmoil she’s been dealing with in the two years since the attack. She said, per WWLP:
“I’ve struggled to find a word that could hold in its meaning both the attack and my experience of it. The closest I found is this: ‘Severe or excruciating pain or suffering (of body or mind); anguish, agony, torment; the infliction of such.’”
For those who don’t know, that’s the definition of torture.
“For four hours I experienced literal torture of body and of mind, not knowing if I would survive the next minute – yet needing to find some way to save my life. The emotional, physical, financial and professional impacts of this crime have been huge and they continue. Now the defendant’s violation of me is becoming part of a public persona that I did not choose. She has invaded my privacy, my career, my life.”
Savoy went on to reveal she suffered nerve damage to her face, adding that two of her fingers no longer work properly. She said she also has trouble sleeping, often experiences nightmares, and has headaches every day.
Pleading for “accountability and justice,” Savoy said to the judge:
“I do not speak or act vindictively, nor do I ever want to cross that line. Respect of and for other human beings matters a great deal to me… It’s difficult to fathom why this happened. All I know is that she betrayed my trust, invaded my home and tried to kill me with premeditated violence. The cruelty she wielded with weapons, and expressed in words, was extreme.”
Hachiyanagi’s defense attorney, Thomas Kokonowski, admitted his client has struggled with anger issues, but insisted that she has since made efforts to correct them and “has been a model prisoner during her incarceration.”
Kokonowski recommended the judge sentence Hachiyanagi to five to seven years at Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.
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