Judge: Hartogensis not guilty by reason of insanity in wife killing

The MetroWest Daily News

A Middlesex Superior Court judge found Richard Hartogensis not guilty by reason of insanity on charges that he murdered his wife, Maria.

Judge Diane Kottmyer’s verdict was read Tuesday afternoon following Hartogensis’ trial that concluded last Thursday. Kottmyer ruled Hartogensis was not guilty by reason of insanity on one count of second-degree murder and two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a knife and scissors.

Prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of first-degree murder when Hartogensis consented to a bench trial rather than a jury trial. Hartogensis showed no emotion when the verdict was read.

Hartogensis, 41 at the time of his wife's death in January 2005, is charged with murdering Maria Hartogensis by bashing her head in with a rock, stabbing her with scissors, and dumping her body in the woods off Elm Street.

At his trial last week that lasted less than one hour, Hartogensis’ attorney told the judge a psychiatrist said the Marlborough man likely would not have murdered his wife if he had been on medication for his schizophrenia.

Defense attorney Stanley Norkunas said Hartogensis will be institutionalized after undergoing a mandatory six-month evaluation. Every year, he said, a hearing will be held to see if Hartogensis is ready to be released.

If Hartogensis were deemed no longer insane, he would be transferred to a facility in Taunton in which he would still receive care but be able to, for example, leave for the day to picnic with his family, Norkunas said.

Norkunas said Hartogensis has suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for nearly three decades and stopped taking his medicine in November 2004.

''He knew he was losing his grasp on reality,'' Norkunas said. ''He did not know what to do or where to go.''

Included in the evidence submitted to Kottmyer was an evaluation from Brigham and Women's Hospital psychiatrist Alison Fife, who determined if Hartogensis had been on medication ''in all likelihood the act he did never would have occurred,'' Norkunas said.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Fabbri told the judge Hartogensis murdered his wife after a heated argument in the couple's Evelina Drive home.

''As the result of a dispute they had that evening, an altercation took place in the home that resulted in the death of Maria Hartogensis,'' Fabbri said. ''There were several blows to her head as a result of a rock, and several stab wounds as a result of scissors.''

The trial was originally scheduled to begin in June of this year but was postponed because Kottmyer, on advice of a court clinician, determined that Richard Hartogensis was not fit for trial.

Norkunas said Hartogensis has a history of mental problems and has been in and out of hospitals much of his adult life, sometimes staying as long as four months.

Hartogensis has spent time in Emerson Hospital in Concord, Metropolitan State Hospital in Waltham, Bournewood Health Systems in Brookline, and a clinic run by the South Middlesex Opportunity Council in Framingham.