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An art professor has pleaded guilty to trying to kill a friend during an attack that lasted for four hours.
Rie Hachiyanagi, 50, and Lauret Savoy were both professors at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts when Hachiyanagi went to the victim’s Leverett home on Dec. 23, 2019, according to a release from Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan’s office. According to Assistant DA Matthew Thomas, Hachiyanagi was distressed over an unrelated recent breakup. After Savoy invited her inside, Hachiyanagi attacked her, using a fire poker, rock, and pruning shears to engage in a “four-hour torture session.”
On Friday, Savoy read an emotional victim impact statement to the court.
“I’ve struggled to find a word that could hold in its meaning both the attack and my experience of it,” said Savoy, according to the press release. “The closest I found is this: ‘severe or excruciating pain or suffering (of body or mind); anguish, agony, torment; the infliction of such.’ This is a definition of torture.”
During the attack, Hachiyanagi allegedly professed her feelings for the geology professor, claiming she’d loved her for years, as previously reported. Savoy told police she pretended to love Hachiyanagi back in hopes of convincing her to call 911.
When police arrived, Hachiyanagi painted herself as the heroine who called 911, claiming she stopped by to bring her friend poinsettias, according to the police report obtained by Oxygen.com. Upon arrival, they found the victim with broken bones and several puncture wounds, though they were not deemed life-threatening injuries. Hachiyanagi claimed she found Savoy “barely breathing,” citing an unknown intruder.
“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 continued in her statement in court. “The emotional, physical, financial, and professional impacts of this crime have been huge, and they continue.”
Savoy told responders that Hachiyanagi “emerged from the darkness” outside her home before she invited her in. Once inside, Hachiyanagi began punching her head before using foreign objects to beat the woman.
At Friday’s hearing, Hachiyanagi pleaded guilty to 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.
“Your Honor, I ask for accountability and justice, please,” Savoy said in court. “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.”
Hachiyanagi’s defense attorney, Thomas Kokonowski, claimed his client struggled with anger issues but had made efforts to correct them and “has been a model prisoner during her incarceration,” according to the DA’s office. He recommended a sentence of five-to-seven years.
“It’s difficult to fathom why this happened,” Savoy continued. “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.”
Judge Francis Flannery scheduled a sentencing hearing for Oct. 20.
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