Tang may take class at BU

At latest hearing since June, judge relaxes terms of Tang’s house arrest

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Defendant Anna L. Tang and her attorney Robert A. George at her status conference Friday, August 27.
John A. Hawkinson—The Tech
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Assistant District Attorney Suzanne M. Kontz argues against Tang’s request to attend a mobile app development class at Boston University. Tang has been under house arrest since late 2007.
John A. Hawkinson—The Tech

Last Friday, in the first step since Anna Tang’s trial came to an abrupt halt early this summer, the Middlesex Superior Court agreed to relax Tang’s house arrest so she can attend a class in “Mobile Application Development” at Boston University’s Metropolitan College on Monday evenings. The class covers the Google Android and Apple iPhone operating systems.

Tang is a former Wellesley student who stabbed Next House resident Wolfe B. Styke ’10 in his room while he slept in October 2007. Tang was seeking treatment for mental illness prior to the stabbing. In late June, her trial stalled after the Commonwealth’s forensic psychiatrist Alison Fife suddenly changed her opinion and decided that Tang was in some sense criminally responsible for her actions.

At Tang’s next court date, September 17, the Court will hear argument on the defense’s motion to exclude Fife’s last-minute change of opinion. Depending on the result, the trial could continue, this time perhaps with a jury (which Tang had previously waived); or a mistrial might be declared. The judge expressed concern that Tang not be subject to “double jeopardy.”

Last Friday, the status conference began with a discussion of Tang’s bail. She is under house arrest with a GPS ankle bracelet, and she can leave home to attend church, exercise, and see her doctors and lawyers.

The prosecution reported that, apparently in coordination with Tang’s probation officer, she has been permitted outside of her home for more than twelve hours some days, including Tang’s travel time. Assistant District Attorney Suzanne M. Kontz appeared surprised by the extent of these “windows” in Tang’s house arrest, saying she had just learned of them.

Defense attorney Robert A. George said claims of Tang being out for over twelve hours were incorrect, and said “such a claim twists the reality of the amount of time she is out.” George added that “she is doing no wrong and is bothering no one” or her probation officer would have recorded a violation.

Tang’s probation records and the specific windows punched are not public records, according to acting chief probation officer Maureen J. McEachern.

The Court heard oral argument on the defense’s motion to enlarge Tang’s bail conditions, a six-point motion. Judge Bruce R. Henry granted the first of six requests, that Tang be allowed to take a single class at BU. The Commonwealth argued against that request, noting that the original crime occurred on a university campus.

The judge strongly denied the sixth request, that Tang be allowed to travel to Cambridge for a bible study class — the judge acknowledged Styke’s continued enrollment at MIT as a factor, even though Tang would still be prohibited from the MIT campus.

The Court also denied Tang’s four other requests “at this point.” Tang will not allowed to attend ballet classes; volunteer at a Quincy church; attend the Ukelele Union of Harvard, Mass.; or visit a series of friends in Somerville, Brighton, and Newton for lunch or dinner.