Northampton man will go to trial on first-degree murder charge after plea agreement talks break down

Devin R. Bryden appears in Northampton District Court July 11, 2022. Bryden is expected to go to trial on a first-degree murder charge after negotiations toward a plea agreement broke down this week.

Devin R. Bryden appears in Northampton District Court July 11, 2022. Bryden is expected to go to trial on a first-degree murder charge after negotiations toward a plea agreement broke down this week. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

By JAMES PENTLAND

Staff Writer

Published: 04-24-2024 1:06 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A city man will go to trial on a first-degree murder charge with a new attorney after long-running negotiations toward a plea agreement broke down, lawyers said at a brief hearing Wednesday in Hampshire Superior Court.

Devin Bryden, 26, is accused of stabbing Jana Abromowitz, 21, to death in July 2022 at an apartment on Hatfield Street in Northampton. He has been held without the right to bail since. A hearing for a change of plea in his case had been scheduled for Wednesday.

Instead, his attorney, Daniel Solomon, last week filed a motion to withdraw from the case, citing a breakdown in communication.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Webber told Judge Karen Goodwin that Solomon, Bryden’s second attorney, had worked hard during weeks of discussions with the commonwealth and the victim’s family to negotiate an agreement under which his client would plead guilty to second-degree murder.

“That is revoked,” Webber said. “The commonwealth is going to trial on murder in the first degree.”

Police state in court records that Bryden told them he had planned the killing because he was about to become homeless and he wanted to steal Abromowitz’s car. The two shared a supportive housing unit at 11 Hatfield St. run by the DIAL/SELF Youth & Community Services program.

Bryden is also charged with armed robbery, larceny of a motor vehicle and withholding evidence from a criminal proceeding.

Webber urged the court to set a trial date as soon as possible, saying the necessary documents are all prepared.

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Solomon noted that there is a shortage of defense attorneys for murder cases, and that new counsel “should not be stampeded.”

Goodwin said the process of finding a new lawyer has begun, and Solomon’s withdrawal would become effective on the appointment of new counsel.

James Pentland can be reached at jpentland@gazettenet.com.