‘Most horrific set of facts I’ve heard:’ Lovelorn art professor sentenced for trying to kill colleague in ‘4-hour torture session’

Crime

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WFLA/WWLP) – Rie Hachiyanagi, a former art professor at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts was sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison for brutally attacking her colleague in Dec. 2019.

Hachiyanagi pleaded guilty to the nine charges stemming from the attack on Friday, 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. She was sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison, the sentence recommended by Assistant District Attorney Thomas.

The defense had recommended five to seven years in state prison, followed by probation. They said she had no prior criminal history and struggled with anger issues. Defense Attorney Thomas Kokonowski noted that she had been a model prisoner during her incarceration. The defense presented evidence that Hachiyanagi was a respected peer, talented artist, good friend, and kind person with no criminal record.

“But on the other hand, I have this defendant who tried to torture to death over four hours someone who wasn’t an enemy, but was a friend,” Judge Francis Flannery said. “But I still don’t understand. I still don’t see an adequate explanation for what happened. This is one of the most horrific set of facts I’ve heard.”

According to the Boston Herald, Hachiyanagi, and the victim, Lauret Savoy, were both professors at Mount Holyoke College when the attack happen.

Savoy told police Hachiyanagi came to her home to discuss a breakup and wound up attacking her with fists, rocks, pruning shears, and a fire poker, and that she feared Hachiyanagi would kill her.

According to Savoy, Hachiyanagi told her she’d “loved her for many years” and she “should have known.”

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Thomas said the “four-hour torture session” ended after Savoy was able to convince Hachiyanagi to call for help.

Savoy suffered severe physical injuries and emotional trauma.

“Professor Savoy is certainly a victim of a horrific crime, but that’s not what I’m going to
remember,” he said. “I’m going to remember that she had the presence of mind and the courage
to convince her attacker not to kill her. As her body was failing her, she used her mind to save
herself. That’s remarkable.”

Hachiyanagi pled guilty to nine charges, 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.

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