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Ex-college art professor, 50, pleads guilty over trying to kill her colleague

A former college art professor who tried to kill her colleague during a ‘four-hour torture session’ on Christmas Eve during which she bludgeoning her with a rock, garden shears and a fire poker has pleaded guilty, prosecutors announced on Friday.

Rie Hachiyanagi, 50, a former art professor at Mount Holyoke College, said that she had loved her colleague Lauret Savoy for years during the attack in 2019.

Hachiyanagi pleaded guilty to a long list of charges relating to the attack on December 24, according to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.

These included 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, according to WHDH.

Rie Hachiyanagi (pictured), a former college art professor who tried to kill her colleague during a ‘four-hour torture session’ on Christmas Eve during which she bludgeoning her with a rock, garden shears and fire poker has pleaded guilty, prosecutors announced on Friday

Rie Hachiyanagi, 50, a former art professor at Mount Holyoke College, said that she had loved her colleague Lauret Savoy  (pictured) for years during the attack in 2019

Rie Hachiyanagi, 50, a former art professor at Mount Holyoke College, said that she had loved her colleague Lauret Savoy  (pictured) for years during the attack in 2019

Hachiyanagi pleaded guilty to a long list of charges relating to the attack on December 24, according to the Northwestern District Attorney's Office.

Hachiyanagi pleaded guilty to a long list of charges relating to the attack on December 24, according to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.

The incident took place while both Hachiyanagi and Savoy were professors at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

Hachiyanagi went to the victim’s home, according to a release from the Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan’s office, and was distressed over an unrelated recent breakup and claimed she needed emotional support, Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Matthew Thomas said in court.

Savoy invited Hachiyanagi inside, at which point Hachiyanagi attacked her when Savoy turned her back, hitting her with a rock, a fire poker and pruning shears, all while taunting her in a four-hour torture session. 

Hachiyanagi is said to have straddled the victim, telling her that she loved her for years and that the the geology professor should have known that, and punched her while they were both on the floor.

She taunted Savoy by telling her repeatedly that she would be blinded, disfigured and then murdered.

The victim was eventually able to persuade Hachiyanagi to call for help by pretending she shared these feelings, Thomas said, and got her to call 911.

Once the authorities arrived, Hachiyanagi put on a facade for officers, claiming she had been the one to save her, the prosecutor said, but upon arrival they found the victim with broken bones and several puncture wounds.

They were not deemed life threatening, and Hachiyanagi claimed that she found Savoy ‘barely breathing’ and claimed there had been an unknown intruder.

Savoy told the court that she suffered nerve damage to her face, and two of her fingers no longer work properly. She said that she has trouble sleeping, often has nightmares, and has headaches every day. 

She also said that the attack has left her with long-lasting emotional trauma. 

‘This is a 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,’ Savoy told the court in an emotional statement. 

‘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.’

Rie Hachiyanagi (pictured), a former college art professor who tried to kill her colleague during a 'four-hour torture session' on Christmas Eve during which she bludgeoning her with a rock, garden shears and fire poker has pleaded guilty

Rie Hachiyanagi (pictured), a former college art professor who tried to kill her colleague during a ‘four-hour torture session’ on Christmas Eve during which she bludgeoning her with a rock, garden shears and fire poker has pleaded guilty

Police claimed Hachiyanagi called 911 shortly after midnight to report that the victim was lying in a pool of blood and barely breathing inside her Leverett, home in Massachusetts. The two women were faculty members at Mount Holyoke College, (pictured)

Police claimed Hachiyanagi called 911 shortly after midnight to report that the victim was lying in a pool of blood and barely breathing inside her Leverett, home in Massachusetts. The two women were faculty members at Mount Holyoke College, (pictured) 

Savoy continued: ‘Your Honor, I ask for accountability and justice, please. 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,’ Savoy said. ‘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.’

Thomas Kokonowski, Hachiyanagi’s defense attorney, claimed that his client struggled with anger issues but that she had taken steps to correct them.

He added that she ‘has been a model prisoner during her incarceration,’ according to the DA’s office, and recommended a sentence of five to seven years.

Judge Francis Flannery scheduled a sentencing hearing for October 20 (Wednesday). 


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