Student describes knife attack as he slept in MIT dorm room

Former girlfriend on trial in assault

Defense lawyer Robert A. George conferred with client Anna Tang during her trial yesterday in Middlesex Superior Court. Defense lawyer Robert A. George conferred with client Anna Tang during her trial yesterday in Middlesex Superior Court.
(John A. Hawkinson/Associated Press/Pool)
By Denise Lavoie
Associated Press / June 29, 2010

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WOBURN — Wolfe Styke and Anna Tang met at a social gathering for MIT students and quickly became friends and study partners.

Eventually, their relationship became romantic, and Tang, a Wellesley College student, moved into Styke’s dorm room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

But Styke ended their relationship within months. About three weeks later, prosecutors say, Tang sneaked into his room armed with three knives and stabbed him as he slept.

Yesterday, Styke testified for a second day at Tang’s trial in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, where she is facing charges of attempted murder and assault.

Tang does not deny the attack, but her lawyers maintain that she was legally insane at the time, suffering from bipolar disorder and depression.

Styke described waking up at about 5 a.m. on Oct. 23, 2007, to see Tang on top of him, with a metal object in her hands, sobbing.

He said he pinned Tang to the bed and took the knife away.

“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,’ ’’ said Styke, who received seven stab wounds in the attack.

Tang attended Wellesley College, but also took several classes at MIT. Styke said he and Tang took a class together. In summer 2007, Tang moved into Styke’s dorm room on Memorial Drive in Cambridge.

But at the end of July, feeling pressure from his parents, Styke said, he told Tang to move out.

Styke said he and Tang stayed in touch while she spent a month in China, then continued a friendly relationship when she returned, but he said it was not sexual.

He said he ended their relationship a second time in early October.

Under questioning from Tang’s lawyer, Styke said he learned at some point during their relationship that Tang was seeing a psychologist and taking a medication that he later researched on the Internet.

“I think it suggested bipolar,’’ he said, describing the disorder that he had learned the medication was used to treat.

Eric Brown, a forensic psychologist testifying for the defense yesterday, said Tang had a history of depression and had been sexually abused shortly before she began attending Wellesley College in 2005.

Brown, who has a practice in Newton, said Styke was Tang’s first boyfriend. When they met in January 2007, Tang had bouts of depression and was in counseling and on medication, he said.

She was getting straight A’s at Wellesley, but by the end of September she was feeling academically overwhelmed and did not attend classes for a week before the stabbing, Brown said.

When Styke broke up with her the first time, “it was devastating,’’ Brown said. “It made her feel like, once again, I can’t hold onto a friendship.’’

After the couple resumed a friendly relationship in September, she was “feeling very distressed’’ and troubled by mood swings, Brown said.

In early October, she told her therapist that “she was having thoughts of harming her boyfriend,’’ Brown said.

“She was feeling very depressed, but her depression was also alternating with crazy thoughts,’’ he said. “She was unraveling.’’

Tang, 23, is charged with armed assault with attempt to murder, home invasion, and assault with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury.

Styke, 22, who has one semester remaining before graduating from MIT, appeared reticent during his testimony and was barely audible at times.

Under cross-examination by Tang’s lawyer, Robert A. George, Styke frequently paused for long periods or did not respond, prompting George to move on to another question.

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