LAWRENCE — Joel Monegro, 32, who police say stabbed his wife to death Monday, was ordered held without bail after an arraignment in his Boston hospital room.

Monegro is charged with murdering Yesenia Monegro, 28, the mother of his three children, "by stabbing her multiple times" late Monday afternoon, according to a Lawrence police report. Yesenia Monegro is also known as Yesenia Torres.

He was arraigned on the murder charge Tuesday afternoon in a hospital bed in an intensive care unit at Tufts Medical Center in Boston with Lawrence District Court Judge Lynn Rooney presiding.

Rooney ordered him held without bail.

Monegro had a bandage on his forehead and another across his neck. Oxygen tubes were in his nose. He kept his eyes closed and said very little other than "yes" when asked if he could hear the arraignment was underway in the hospital room.

Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall, who tries major cases in Essex County Superior Court, was present for the arraignment. Defense attorney Carolyn McGowan represented Monegro for the purposes of the arraignment only. Monegro is expected to be appointed a new defense attorney in the near future.

Police reports indicate the couple planned to divorce. They had been together for 13 years and had children ages 10, 7 and 3, police said. 

Monegro, of 41 Doyle St., apt. 1, had been charged previously after a domestic dispute earlier this month at the couple's home, according to court records.

He was arrested and charged with domestic assault and battery on a household member on May 18, according to a report. 

That night, just after 11 p.m., Torres told police "her husband was fighting her dad and hit her as well," according to the report.

Monegro told police his father-in-law was drunk and antagonizing him. So he punched him. But Monegro never admitted to hitting his wife, according to the report. 

No bail was set in that incident, according to court records. He was released on personal recognizance and was scheduled to be back in court on July 10, the records say.

Torres did not have any previous or current restraining orders against Monegro, according to court records.

On Monday night at 5 p.m., Lawrence police responded to the couple's Doyle Street apartment for a report of a "double stabbing."  

A Doyle Street neighbor told police he spoke to Monegro on the phone Monday before police went to the apartment.

"Joel told him 'Call the ambulance. We are both dying,'" a police report quoted Monegro as saying to the neighbor.

When the neighbor asked what happened, "Joel continued to say 'We got into a fight and both stabbed each other,'" the police report said.

The neighbor said he regularly checks on Monegro "because he suffers from depression due to the divorce process," according to a police report.

Monegro also called the police himself and told a dispatcher "he and his wife stabbed each each other and that they were dying," according to a police report. 

Officer Christopher Bussey said when he arrived at the couple's apartment he "observed a male and female face down on the (kitchen) floor bleeding heavy, each from several (apparent) stab wounds."

Torres had severe lacerations to her left upper arm, her neck and left side of her body, Bussey's report said.

According to the report, the woman was in a semi-conscious state but the officer heard her say "he stabbed me.''

"As she said this she looked at the male bleeding on the floor," the officer wrote, adding that she then lost consciousness.

The officer said he applied a tourniquet to her left arm because it was "severely lacerated, almost completely off."

She was Medflighted to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where she died a short time later. 

Another officer who responded to the home said when he arrived both the man and woman were lying on the kitchen floor "in a pool of blood."

"The male was lying on his stomach and the female was on her side next to the male,'' the officer's report said. "The male was conscious and saying, 'Help her.' I could see a small knife on the floor as we entered behind the female.''

A second bloody knife was found on the floor of the bedroom next to the kitchen, according to police.

The three children that live in the home were with a relative at the time of the stabbings, according to an affidavit filed by Lawrence Detective William Colantuoni. The affidavit was filed in support of a search warrant for the apartment. 

Before he was flown to Tufts Medical Center, Monegro was read his rights by an officer in the emergency room at Lawrence General Hospital, Colantuoni wrote. 

He also gave a brief statement to police saying he and his wife had been fighting over money. 

"She had a kitchen knife and I had my knife ... She stabbed me and I stabbed her," Monegro allegedly told police. 

He said his wife stabbed him first but he didn't know how many times. Monegro said he planned to move out of their apartment on Monday, according to the affidavit. 

Torres was pronounced dead at 7:44 p.m. Monday. Colantuoni noted.

Monegro is due back in Lawrence District Court on June 25 for a probable cause hearing.  

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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