St. Augustine man charged after cab driver slashed with box cutter

By Corley Peel - Reporter

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - A fight about a flaky taxi driver sent one St. Augustine man to the hospital over the weekend and the other to jail, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies learned of the incident after a man came into the Flagler Hospital emergency room Sunday morning with four slash wounds across his body, including one that measured 12 inches long.

While the victim, who works as a taxi driver, was not forthcoming at first, he later admitted he was cut with a box cutter during a dustup with a regular customer, according to an offense report.

The victim said he routinely picks up Jonathan Lessley from Planet Fitness on U.S. 1 and takes him home. But on Sunday, he said, Lessley called dispatch to complain that his driver was a no-show.

He said the pair decided to meet up about 6:30 a.m. near the gym to hash out their differences in person. Instead, they got into an argument.

It was then, the victim said, that Lessley pulled out a box cutter and showed it off. He said he picked up a piece of PVC pipe lying on the ground nearby and then struck Lessley with it to defend himself.

In retaliation, he said, Lessley lunged at him and slashed him four times – twice on his left side, once on his right side and once on the back of the head.

"This is such a busy street. I wouldn't expect someone to get stabbed on U.S. 1," said Lauren Parker, who works nearby. 

Reached at home, Lessley admitted getting into it with the victim over the taxi ride. According to the report, he told investigators he acted in self-defense after getting hit with the pipe.

Cynthia Artis, one of Lessley’s neighbors, told News4Jax that she was shocked when she saw deputies at Lessley’s house on Sunday.

"I saw them bringing him out in handcuffs," Artis said. "I think it was about four or five cops coming out the door. I was, like, 'Oh, Lord.'"

Lessley, 33, was booked into the St. Johns County jail on a felony charge of aggravated battery. Jail logs show he remains in custody in lieu of $2,500 bail.

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