MEDFORD — From his first-floor apartment, Jason Williams heard a loud commotion from the inside stairwell, breaking the calm of an early Sunday morning. He kept listening, but heard nothing more. Someone had gone downstairs, but had not left.
He walked out into the hallway of the small Cambridge apartment building and saw a trail of blood leading down the stairs and to the front steps, where a man had collapsed on his side.
“I said, ‘Buddy, are you with me?’ ” Williams recalled Monday. “He didn’t respond, just heaved a big sigh or two.”
The man, Dana Robinson, 46, had been stabbed in the chest with a knife, and was later pronounced dead. Williams’s upstairs neighbor, Malia Gomez, 40, was arraigned in Cambridge District Court in Medford Monday and charged with the fatal stabbing. She was ordered held without bail pending a psychiatric evaluation.
Gomez lived in a Putnam Avenue apartment building overseen by a community housing program.
Gomez told police Robinson had come to her apartment around midnight, but later refused to leave. In the ensuing argument, Robinson struck her on the right side of her head, and she then stabbed him once in the chest, according to her account in a Cambridge police report.
“He wouldn’t get up out of my house,” she said. She said he kept “fighting her” and prevented her from calling the police.
She told police she left the knife in his chest and left the apartment about 6 a.m. Sunday. She called police a short time later from a nearby gas station.
After Gomez’s arraignment, her father said he believed she acted in self-defense after giving Robinson a place to stay for the night.
“She was being a Good Samaritan,” said Mallory Gomez. “She was letting him come inside because it was cold.” He said Robinson was homeless.
Gomez said it was his understanding that the altercation began when Robinson struck his daughter and that “things went from there.”
“It was definitely self-
defense,” he said.
Police who spoke with Gomez at the gas station said she had no visible signs of an injury.
Mallory Gomez extended his sympathies to Robinson’s family, saying he was “sincerely sorry for what happened.”
During the brief court hearing, several people stood up in court, stating, “We’re here in support of the deceased.” When they were asked to sit down, they walked out of the courtroom. They later declined to comment.
Gomez was largely hidden from view during the hearing, but was seen looking anxiously for her family. She pleaded not guilty to charges of armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Her court-appointed lawyer did not contest the judge’s order for a mental evaluation.
Police said Gomez and Robinson knew each other, but did not say how. Gomez described Robinson in the police report as a “basehead uncle,” but said she did not know his last name.
She told police another man had been at the apartment, but left around 5:30 a.m. When she returned to her apartment after walking him to his car, she and Robinson began to argue.
Williams, 62, said Gomez had many visitors, often late at night. “Her company comes and goes at ridiculous hours,” he said. He described Gomez as a “troubled individual.”
Williams said that after he called 911, he looked back at the stairs Robinson had stumbled down. Every single tread, he said, had blood on it.John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Schworm can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.