BOSTON (CBS) — The female Lyft driver accused of stabbing a woman in Dorchester Christmas night has been ordered held on $15,000 bail and ordered to stay away from the victim, witnesses and the scene.
Kiona Thomas, 25, of Roslindale appeared in Dorchester District Court Tuesday morning, covering her face. She is charged with assault with intent to murder the 21-year-old female in front of 967 Blue Hill Avenue around 11:15 p.m. Sunday. She pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Thomas’s family and friends were in court to support her.
“The incredible level of violence here from a stranger over what seemed to be a disagreement for a ride share service is incredibly concerning,” Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Lauren Hatch said in court Tuesday.
Prosecutors say Kiona Thomas was working for Lyft when she arrived at the Blue Hill Avenue address Christmas night to pick up a passenger.
They say a mixup over the number of passengers sparked an argument.
“When she told the female Lyft driver she made a mistake about how many passengers would be traveling with her, the defendent became upset and a verbal argument ensued,” Hatch said.
Prosecutors say that’s when the woman who requested the ride called her sister-in-law to come downstairs.
The argument escalated into a violent altercation and the sister-in-law was stabbed in the neck.
Prosecutors say Thomas took off, then hours later turned herself into police.
Witnesses say the victim, Shauna Gardner, made it to a neighboring fire station after being stabbed. But Thomas’s attorney says his client was only defending herself.
“I think there’s a self defense argument to be made here, Judge. The police report itself reflects none of the witnesses could tell how the event happened. They don’t suggest that my client had initiated the altercation,” defense attorney Patrick Troy said.
Outside court, Thomas’s sister and friends defended her as well.
“She’s loved. She’s a beautiful person, a hard worker.”
“She’s an aunt. She’s a sister. What’s it like seeing her in there right now? It’s very hurtful.”
Prosecutors added that Thomas has a limited probation record, but it does include violent offenses.
Ride-sharing companies will start state-approved background checks on their drivers beginning next month.
It’s unclear if that would have prevented Thomas from becoming a driver.
In a statement, Lyft said Thomas “has been permanently deactivated and was in clear violation of our no weapons policy.” The company says they are cooperating with police.
Thomas is due back in court on January 27.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports