Suspect in fatal Easthampton stabbing held without bail

By JAMES PENTLAND and ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writers

Published: 03-16-2023 12:04 AM

NORTHAMPTON — An Easthampton woman was ordered held without the right to bail Wednesday after her arraignment on a charge of murder in the stabbing death of a 23-year-old man at the home they shared.

Jean Marie Echevarria, 23, showed no emotion during a brief appearance in Northampton District Court. The courtroom was packed with her friends and relatives as well as friends and relatives of the victim, Brennan David Bleau, some weeping.

Appearing before Judge Jacklyn Connly, defense attorney Donald Frank entered a not guilty plea but did not contest the state’s request that Echevarria be held. Frank, of Springfield, said he would not continue to represent Echevarria. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for April 12.

In a preliminary probable cause report, Easthampton police said they were called to a reported disturbance at 2 Culdaff St. shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday.

There, police said, they saw what they believed to be blood outside in the snow, on the landing and on the door leading to Apartment B at the Rail Trail Apartments. Inside, police said, they found Bleau lying in the kitchen with several stab wounds in his torso.

Bleau was taken by ambulance to Baystate Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 4:52 a.m. Police said he had suffered five stab wounds, to his chest, abdomen, shoulder, armpit and tricep, and died from loss of blood.

Police also found Echevarria in the apartment. According to police, she told them she and Bleau had been in a physical fight, during which she armed herself with a kitchen knife, which she swung at him after he pinned her against the kitchen counter.

Police said she appeared to have some abrasions on her legs but was otherwise uninjured. She didn’t claim that Bleau had been armed with any weapon during the fight, according to court documents.

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According to their next-door neighbors, Echevarria and Bleau frequently engaged in shouting arguments.

Tugay Gokoglu, who together with his parents has lived in the apartment next door for the last five years after immigrating from Turkey, said he awoke early Tuesday to the sounds of loud arguing coming from next door. He said he first thought nothing much of it, having been accustomed to hearing noises from the couple. Then he said he heard Bleau repeatedly say “calm down,” and then “help me.”

“They were really yelling at each other, screaming, especially the girl,” he said. “I was really scared and was going to call the cops, but somebody already called them before I did.”

Gokoglu said after police arrived, he went outside to check what was happening, and could see into the apartment, where he saw Bleau lying in the kitchen, with blood pooled around the area.

“It was a crazy, unforgettable moment,” he said. “It was a really bad picture.”

The death is the first homicide in Hampshire County this year, and the first homicide in Easthampton since 2012.

Staff Writer James Pentland can be reached at jpentland@gazettenet.com. ]]>