Suspect in DDOT bus stabbing charged
Corrections & clarifications: This story has been updated to correct Tiffany Monique Edwards' name.
Detroit — The 29-year-old woman accused of fatally stabbing another woman on a city bus because she bumped into her was charged with first-degree murder Friday.
Tiffany Monique Edwards was arraigned via video in 36th District Court on murder charges that carry a penalty of life without parole.
The stabbing occurred Wednesday around 3:40 p.m. on a Detroit Department of Transportation bus traveling on West Grand near Rosa Parks .
The victim, identified in court records as Charla Lavon Williams, 50, was dead on arrival to a nearby hospital.
Edwards’ attorney, Kareem Johnson, said his client was only defending herself and was not the aggressor in the “street fight” saying he doesn’t believe it’s “in dispute” Edwards was not the aggressor, but the other woman was.
“She unwillingly found herself in a street fight with a woman much bigger than herself,” Johnson said. “Clearly it was reasonable to think she needed to defend herself.”
Johnson said Williams was the “initial aggressor” striking his client after a verbal altercation which turned physical. Johnson said witnesses will corroborate his client’s claims she did not start the fight.
“I don’t know why my client was charged,” said Johnson. He added he did not know what kind of knife was involved in the incident but acknowledged Edwards carries one to protect herself since she uses city buses for transportation. Johnson also said Edwards had been assaulted before on a bus but he did not have details.
Williams died from multiple sharp force injuries, a spokesman for the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office said. He did not know the type of knife used in the stabbing.
Residents at apartment building where Williams lived in the 2400 block of West Grand and 14th Street, not far from where the deadly bus incident occurred, were still talking about it on Friday.
Many recalled Williams as a woman with a back problem who sometimes needed a walker or other assistance to walk. Some said they did not believe Williams started the fight that resulted in her death.
“I never saw her bother anybody,” said Larry Woods as he sat with other male residents of the high-rise apartment building talking about Williams.
Alene Sheffield described Williams as a spiritual woman who liked to take the bus to the city’s east side to visit relatives.
“She started a fight with me but I forgave her,” said Sheffield, shaking her head about Williams’ death. Sheffield said she did not think Williams was the aggressor in the incident with Johnson.
Edwards returns to court Sept . 4 for a probable hearing. Her preliminary exam is scheduled for Sept. 10.
Edwards, according to the magistrate who arraigned her, is an habitual offender.
She was not given a bond and is being held at the Wayne County Jail. A plea of not guilty was entered on her behalf by the magistrate.
According to Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody, there were 26 assaults on buses last year and six so far this year.
Detroit Police officers don’t patrol city buses anymore. Instead, a 29-member transit police force patrols them. A few years ago, DDOT bus drivers mounted a sickout because of assaults and other crimes on the buses. At the time, Detroit Police announced the department would place undercover officers on the buses. The transit force was instituted later.
Detroit News Staff Writers George Hunter and Kyla Smith contributed.