Mount Holyoke prof can be released on $5K bail, judge rules

  • Defendant Rie Hachiyanagi sits next to legal counsel Thomas Kokonowski and Jesse Adams during a motion hearing in Franklin County Superior Court in Greenfield on Aug. 30. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 9/10/2021 4:25:10 PM

GREENFIELD — The Mount Holyoke College professor awaiting trial for allegedly using a fire poker, a rock and pruning shears to attack a female colleague in the alleged victim’s Leverett home in December 2019 can be released on conditions if $5,000 cash bail is posted, a Franklin County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.

Rie Hachiyanagi was ordered by Judge John Agostini to reside at her South Hadley home, notify probation immediately of any change in residence or contact information and any change in residence or location, submit to GPS monitoring and a curfew, report to probation as directed by probation, and have no contact with the victim.

Hachiyanagi, 50, 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. An evidentiary hearing is set for Oct. 6. The trial, which is expected to last eight to 10 days, is scheduled to begin Oct. 18.

Hachiyanagi appeared in court with legal counsel Thomas Kokonowski and Jesse Adams on Aug. 30 for a hearing regarding the defense’s motions to dismiss the charges for timeliness of discovery to release the defendant on bail, with conditions. Agostini denied the motion to dismiss, but reports he found no clear and convincing evidence that holding Hachiyanagi was necessary to ensure the safety of the community and the individuals involved.

Agostini wrote in his ruling that Hachiyanagi, who has no prior criminal record, faces a minimum sentence of 20 years in state prison, though probation is available.

The defense appears to be pursuing a third-party culprit defense.

According to a report from Massachusetts State Trooper Geraldine Bresnahan, the victim told police Hachiyanagi arrived at her Leverett home unannounced, saying she “wanted to talk about her feelings.” After being invited inside, Hachiyanagi allegedly assaulted the victim, attacking her with multiple implements including “fists, rocks, garden clippers and a fire poker.” Investigators reportedly recovered all objects used.

The 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 potentially saved her life by lying about having reciprocating feelings and convincing Hachiyanagi to stop the attack and call 911.

Hachiyanagi hails from Sapporo, Japan, and is an art professor at Mount Holyoke College, where she has worked since 2004, according to the school’s web page, which also 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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