Florida Woman Who Coughed In Cancer Patient's Face Could Face Jail Time

By Zuri Anderson

March 24, 2021

A Florida woman pleaded guilty on Monday (March 22) to allegedly coughing on and threatening a shopper in a store last year, according to WKMG.

Debra Jo Hunter of Fernandina Beach was charged with misdemeanor assault following a June 25, 2020 incident Pier 1 at St. Johns Town Center. A viral video shows Hunter berating store employees and coughing on another woman who filmed the incident. She also made obscene gestures at the person recording, according to a police report.

The victim, Heather Sprague, told police she was in the store the day Hunter was confronting workers about returning an item she didn't have in her possession, an incident report says. "While watching Hunter, Sprague took out her phone and began recording. Sprague’s video, which quickly went viral, then shows that Hunter responded with obscene gestures," reporters wrote.

WARNING: The video below contains graphic content. Viewer discretion advised.

Yesterday I learned firsthand the power of conscientious bystanders. It took 30 seconds to end 15 minutes of aggressive...

Posted by Heather Reed Sprague on Thursday, June 25, 2020

“I think I’ll get really close to you and cough on you then,” Hunter can be heard saying. “How’s that?” Hunter is then shown coughing on Sprague before walking out of the store with her children. Sprague also described herself as a brain tumor patient and wearing a mask at the time, WKMG said.

Come Monday, Hunter's guilty plea was entered after Judge James Ruth told her that if she wasn’t ready to enter a plea, he was ready to pick a jury. The Florida woman reportedly agreed to plead guilty in two previous hearings, but they were rejected cause it didn't involve jail time.

Reporters said Hunter could face up to 60 days in jail. Her sentencing is set for Wednesday (March 24).

Photo: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

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