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Trial to resume for woman charged in MIT stabbing

Posted by Leslie Anderson  November 30, 2010 09:00 PM

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Anna Tang was a straight-A student at Wellesley College when she met another high achiever at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tang first became friends, then study partners with Wolfe Styke, and eventually their relationship turned romantic.

But after Styke broke up with Tang, she sneaked into his dorm room with three knives and stabbed him as he slept. Styke survived.

Tang's trial is set to resume Wednesday, five months after a prosecution expert changed her opinion on whether Tang was insane when she attacked Styke in October 2007. Tang admits she stabbed Styke but claims she was legally insane, suffering from bipolar disorder and depression.

The trial began in June but was suspended at the request of Tang's lawyer after Dr. Alison Fife, a psychiatrist who teaches at Harvard Medical School, reversed herself.

Fife initially submitted a report to the court indicating she believed Tang was not criminally responsible for stabbing Styke. Tang's lawyer, Robert George, said Fife essentially agreed with three defense experts who said Tang's mental illness made her unable to conform her behavior to the requirements of the law. George said prosecutors informed him after the trial began that Fife had changed her mind and now believes Tang was not legally insane when she stabbed Styke.

Judge Bruce Henry then granted George's request to suspend the trial.

Cara O'Brien, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone, said prosecutors would not comment on the trial itself, only that Fife's change of opinion was "based on new information provided to her."

Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday before Henry, who will hear the case and render a verdict. Tang has waived her right to a jury trial.

Styke testified over two days in June, describing how he met Tang at a social gathering for MIT students, dated her and eventually broke off their relationship.

He said he woke up at about 5 a.m. on Oct. 23, 2007, to see Tang on top of him, sobbing, with a metal object in her hands. He said he managed to pin Tang to the bed and took the knife away from her. He received seven stab wounds in the attack.

"I tossed her to the ground, pulled her off the bed," he said.

Tang left the room, but Styke said he heard her talking to police a few minutes later.

"I heard her say, 'I'm here. I'm over here,"' Styke said.

The remainder of the trial is expected to feature dueling psychiatric experts from the defense and prosecution.

Tang has been free on bail wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet since January 2008. Her lawyer said she's been taking online classes and recently took a night class at Boston University.

"It's been my position, as well as the position of the team of doctors that have been monitoring her that Anna Tang is mentally ill, but currently -- when properly medicated and monitored through counseling -- she is able to safely and meaningfully conduct her life," George said.

Tang, 23, is charged with armed assault with attempt to murder, home invasion and assault with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury. She is not expected to testify, George said.

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