Judge grants motions in Hachiyanagi case: State has till July 30 to hand over relevant materials

  • Assistant District Attorney Matthew Thomas, of the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, and defense attorney Thomas Kokonowski, representing defendant Rie Hachiyanagi, who participated remotely, in Franklin County Superior Court for a motion hearing Thursday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Judge Richard Carey and defendant Rie Hachiyanagi participated remotely in Franklin County Superior Court for a motion hearing Thursday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Defense attorney Thomas Kokonowski, who is representing defendant Rie Hachiyanagi, in Franklin County Superior Court for a motion hearing Thursday morning. Hachiyanagi participated remotely. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Rie Hachiyanagi, who is being held without bail at the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction, participated remotely in Franklin County Superior Court for a motion hearing Thursday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/10/2021 4:35:07 PM

GREENFIELD — Judge Richard Carey has given the state until July 30 to hand over to the defense materials relevant to the case of Rie Hachiyanagi, the Mount Holyoke College professor accused of using a fire poker, rock and pruning shears to attack a colleague in the alleged victim’s Leverett home a year and a half ago.

Thomas Kokonowski, who is representing Hachiyanagi, had filed motions for materials from the Massachusetts State Police crime laboratory, and for immediate access to gloves and other items seized during the night of the alleged assault. He asked to have access to all pertinent evidence within two weeks, as his client has hired a DNA expert, who reportedly told him “time is of the essence.”

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Thomas, who is prosecuting the case for the state, said there was no objection to either motion, only to the requested deadline. He had requested 60 days, which Kokonowski had argued was not expedient enough.

“I, in turn, spoke with the lab — that is their standard turnaround time,” Thomas explained to Carey, asking for a 45-day timeline without prejudice, meaning counsel could return to court to request more time if there is any issue. “This isn’t an instance where the lab is sitting around, waiting for us to call. They do a lot of work on a lot of cases and they’ve requested (60 days), mindful of our schedule.”

Thomas said the lab wants time to ensure all relevant material is gathered.

Kokonowski reminded Carey of his affidavit that stated evidence of a third-party culprit was recently found, in one of the gloves requested. But Thomas argued the glove Kokonowski mentioned was not used in the attack. He said the victim told police that Hachiyanagi wore latex gloves that were “at some point found in a bureau. The glove that has this other party’s genetic material on it is essentially a gardening glove,” which Thomas said could belong to someone else.

Kokonowski then argued that the glove in question was found at the scene in the area the state alleges the attack occurred and it was gathered as evidence on the night of the alleged attack.

“These other gloves that the commonwealth says were used by my client were not found for five months and they were not found by the police,” he said.

The attorneys were in the courtroom in the Franklin County Justice Center on Thursday, but Carey and Hachiyanagi participated remotely. Hachiyanagi, who is being held without bail at the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction, is scheduled for a pretrial conference at 2 p.m. on Aug. 30. A trial could begin by October.

Hachiyanagi, 49, of South Hadley, pleaded not guilty in Franklin County Superior Court in February 2020 to three counts of armed assault to murder a person age 60 or older, three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a person age 60 or older, and single counts of mayhem, home invasion and entering a dwelling at night for a felony.

According to a report from Massachusetts State Trooper Geraldine Bresnahan, the alleged victim told police Hachiyanagi arrived at her Leverett home unannounced late at night on Dec. 23, 2019, saying she “wanted to talk about her feelings.” After being invited inside, Hachiyanagi allegedly attacked the victim, striking her with multiple implements including “fists, rocks, garden clippers and a fire poker.” All objects were reportedly recovered by investigators.

The alleged victim told authorities she believed Hachiyanagi was going to kill her. The police report states that when the victim asked Hachiyanagi why she was attacking her, she said it was because “she loved her for many years and (she) should have known.” Bresnahan’s report also states the victim lied about having reciprocating feelings, and convinced Hachiyanagi to stop the attack and dial 911.

Hachiyanagi, who is originally from Sapporo, Japan, is an art professor at Mount Holyoke College, where she has worked since 2004, according to her Mount Holyoke College web page, which states her specialization is installation, performance and papermaking. She is now on unpaid leave and has been ordered not to step foot on the Mount Holyoke College campus.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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