'Ugly Betty' actor charged with sword murder
November 26, 2010
By Allan Chernoff and Megan Miller, CNN
Police arrested Michael Brea, 31, after responding to neighbors' complaints of shouting coming from a Brooklyn apartment that Brea shared with his mother, New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said.
Neighbors described hearing screams and loud voices coming from the apartment early Tuesday.
"I heard the scream for help. 'Call 9-1-1'," said Clinton Clare, a neighbor who lives below the Brea apartment.
"It's like something you would hear in the movies," said neighbor Vernon Bent. "A scream, like, 'Ahhhh'. It's more feminine, fear, a curling scream."
The victim, Yannick Brea, suffered multiple stab wounds and was found in a kneeling position in the apartment's bathroom, police said.
She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Neighbors said they heard chanting coming from Brea's apartment after the screaming had subsided.
Bent said he heard what he believed to be Brea's voice "repeating certain words, religious words."
Bent quoted the voice as saying, "Jerusalem, Aaron, Moses. Jesus said pick up your bed and walk."
When authorities entered the apartment, in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights neighborhood, they found Michael Brea sitting in a chair with the sword in his hand, the police spokesman said.
Brea's father, Marcel Brea, said the sword allegedly used to kill his former wife is a martial arts weapon that he used for martial arts practice
The elder Brea said that he refuses to believe his son committed the alleged crime.
"My son is not a violent person, a peaceful person," he said. "My son would have done anything for his mother. I don't know what happened," he added. "My son did not kill his mother."
The elder Brea said his son -- a Freemason -- had attended a Freemason's meeting at a Masonic Lodge in Harlem, on the day of the incident.
He said he later recieved a phone call from his son, complaining of a headache.
The elder Brea -- who is also a Freemason -- said he told his son just hours before the incident occurred to "say your prayers [and] lay in your bed and your headache will go away."
Neighbors said police arrived at the building quickly following reports of a disturbance, but questioned how long it took authorities to actually enter the apartment.
Neighbor Gregory Clare, who lives in Brea's apartment building, told CNN affiliate NY1 that "for about 45 minutes, [police] didn't follow through [in entering the apartment]."
"It would've made a big difference," he said. "I think Miss Brea would still be here [had police responded sooner]."
But New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said during a news conference officers were following police procedures.
"When there is a barricade situation, responding patrol officers, if possible, wait for emergency service officers to come," he said.
Brea is being held at the Bellvue Hospital Psychiatric Ward, after having first been evaluated at Kings County Hospital, according to the spokesman.
Yannick Brea had worked as housekeeper at a Marriott Hotel in Manhattan, New York.
"We were shocked and saddened to learn of the untimely death of our housekeeping associate, Ms. Yannick Brea," said Kathleen Duffy, spokesperson for NYC Marriott Hotels. "Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Ms. Brea's family and friends," she said.
The elder Brea said he is in the process of hiring a lawyer to defend his son.
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