Newton

Man charged with beating his wife to death at Newton home back in court

Richard Hanson was held without bail on a grand jury's murder charge in the beating death of Nancy Hanson at a home in Newton in July

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The man charged with beating his wife to death in Newton, Massachusetts, pleaded not guilty to a new murder charge Thursday and will stay behind bars while the case is pending.

Richard Hanson was in Middlesex Superior Court to face a grand jury indictment charging him with first-degree murder in the deadly beating of his wife, Nancy Hanson, at their home on July 15. The grand jury's indictment elevated the murder case from district court, where Hanson was previously charged, to superior court.

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After he pleaded not guilty on Thursday, a magistrate judge ordered Hanson continue to be held without bail and have no contact with the couple's three children, who witnessed the attack and remain in state custody.

One of the children saw "his father hitting the victim in the back and head with a baseball bat. A second observed the defendant sitting on the bed in the aftermath holding a baseball bat while the victim was on the floor, injured," Assistant District Attorney Megan McGovern said in court.

Richard Hanson was held without bail on a murder charge in the beating death of Nancy Hanson at a home on Brookline Street in Newton; the household was known to police due to ongoing domestic and verbal disputes, with several restraining orders filed since 2020

Hanson's court-appointed lawyer said that the man wants to be able to have contact with his kids "if they choose to contact him." The judge said that, if they did want to reach out, a motion could be filed for review by a judge.

"You do not contact those individuals yourself," the judge said. "No letters, no phone calls, no third-party contact on your behalf."

Hanson's lawyer requested money to hire a forensic psychologist and private investigator, which the judge approved, for up to $2,000. They also discussed the question of whether Hanson could afford to hire a private attorney, which the judge said had arisen Thursday morning, but Hanson's current lawyer said he didn't have access to any money outside of property.

Nancy Hanson was found fatally wounded on the floor of one of the children's bedrooms with injuries to her head, prosecutors have said. Two people simultaneously called 911 around 8:30 p.m. to report the attack as it happened: one of 54-year-old Nancy Hanson's children, who heard her yell to call police, and a friend who was on the phone with her at the time, prosecutors said.

The friend "heard Nancy say, 'Rich, no,' before the phone dropped to the floor. After a moment of silence, she heard several loud and repetitive bangs as well as children screaming something to the effect of, 'Dad, stop, you're killing her,'" McGovern said Thursday.

Officers found Richard Hanson in the driveway, covered with blood, and told one, "She was cheating on me. I can't believe I did that. I can't believe I did that," prosecutors have previously said.

Richard Hanson, 64, of Newton, has been charged with assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury in connection with Nancy Hanson's death at their Brookline Street home.

Nancy Hanson, who died at Brigham and Women's Hospital about an hour after the attack, was found to have been killed by blunt-force trauma, officials said. The medical examiner found her skull, arms and several ribs were broken, with other injuries as well.

A restraining order had been issued against Richard Hanson in Newton District Court days before Nancy Hanson was killed and Newton police had been attempting to serve it but weren't successful, according to authorities.

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