Mass. Professor Sentenced for Attempting to Murder Her Colleague in Gruesome Attack That Lasted 4 Hours
A Mount Holyoke College art professor has been sentenced to at least a decade in prison after pleading guilty to beating and torturing a colleague for four hours with a fire poker and garden shears because the woman didn't have the same feelings for her.
Rie Hachiyanagi, 50, was sentenced Wednesday to 10 to 12 years in a Massachusetts state prison for attacking fellow professor Lauret Savoy on the night of Dec. 23, 2019, leaving her with permanent injuries, PEOPLE confirms.
The sentence came five days after Hachiyanagi pleaded guilty in Franklin Superior Court to nine charges in connection with the brutal attack, including three counts of armed assault with intent to murder a person over 60, and one count each of home invasion, mayhem and entering in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony.
"She betrayed my trust, invaded my home, and tried to kill me with premeditated violence," Savoy said in a victim impact statement at the hearing, the Associated Press reports. "The cruelty she wielded with weapons and expressed in words, was extreme."
Calling the attack one of the "most horrific set of facts I've heard," Judge Francis Flannery said according to a release from the Northwestern District Attorney's office, "Professor Savoy is certainly a victim of a horrific crime, but that's not what I'm going to remember."
"I'm going to remember that she had the presence of mind and the courage to convince her attacker not to kill her," he said. "As her body was failing her, she used her mind to save herself. That's remarkable."
A Terrifying Ordeal
On the night of Dec. 23, 2019, Hachiyanagi, a professor at the prestigious women's college in South Hadley, showed up at Savoy's home saying she wanted to "talk about her feelings," according to a state police report obtained by the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
As soon as she stepped inside, Hachiyanagi began hitting Savoy with a rock, a fire poker and garden shears for four torturous hours.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 24, 2019, Hachiyanagi called 911, saying she found Savoy "in a pool of blood," "barely breathing," and "semi-conscious and with a head injury," according to a state police report obtained by the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
She said she saw signs of a struggle but police found no signs of an intruder, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.
Hachiyanagi told police she was covered in blood because she had been holding her friend, local station WWLP reports.
Savoy was rushed to a local hospital with broken bones in her nose and eye area and numerous lacerations and puncture wounds on her head and face, according to the state police report.
Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.
Savoy said she "thought she was going to die at the hands of Hachiyanagi," the state police report says.
When Savoy asked Hachiyanagi why she was attacking her, Hachiyanagi replied "that she loved her for many years and she should have known," the report says.
A quick-thinking Savoy stopped the attacks by "playing along" with Hachiyanagi and saying she had the same feelings, telling her to call 911, the report says.
When officers arrested Hachiyanagi at her home on Dec. 24, they found her in possession of the victim's keys, cell phone and glasses, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.
The prosecution had recommended a 10- to 12-year sentence in state prison with three years of probation as well as an order to stay away from Savoy, wear a monitoring device for a year and undergo counseling, WWLP reports.
Hachiyanagi's attorney had recommended 5 to 7 years in state prison and a period of probation because of her lack of a prior record and struggles with anger issues, WWLP reports.
The judge said that while Hachiyanagi was respected and had no criminal record, "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."
Hachiyanagi's attorney declined PEOPLE's request for comment on Wednesday's sentencing.