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Driver Sentenced to Prison for Slashing Deaf-Mute Passenger

June 12, 1995

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A former bus driver was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison Monday for slashing the face of a deaf-mute passenger in a fare dispute.

Vera Coward was convicted in April of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and weapons charges in the Aug. 24 attack that left Kevin DeFrancisco with a 9-inch gash on his face. He needed 58 stitches.

Coward, 35, testified that she slashed DeFrancisco with a folding knife she kept in her purse after he hit her in the face in a dispute over whether he and a friend had displayed disability cards entitling them to reduced fares.

DeFrancisco, who testified with the aid of an interpreter, said he tapped Coward’s shoulder several times to get her attention after trying to ask her for a transfer slip.

Coward was fired after the attack. She had worked for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority for eight years.

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