Debra Jo Hunter Florida woman pleads guilty to intentionally coughing on cancer patient, Heather Sprague. Seeks leniency as she now faces jail time.
Where civility could’ve saved you and your family a whole lot of pain. Never mind, just another day in Florida and a politicized America…
Debra Jo Hunter of Fernandina Beach, Nassau County, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in the June 25 incident in a Pier 1 at the St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville, where she berated employees and coughed on a woman who captured the incident on video, News4Jax reported.
The victim, Heather Sprague, told authorities that she observed Hunter upbraiding store staff as she tried to return an item she didn’t have in her possession, according to the news outlet.
Sprague took out her phone and began recording the encounter – prompting Hunter, 53, to make obscene gestures toward her.
A woman in this video, who has since been identified as Debra Vecchio Hunter, intentionally coughs on another woman who is a cancer patient.
The incident took place at Pier One at the St. John’s Town Center in Jacksonville, Florida.
— Travis Akers (@travisakers) June 26, 2020
Weaponizing the threat of the virus
‘I think I’ll get really close to you and cough on you then. How’s that?’ Hunter, who was not wearing a mask, is heard saying before she is seen coughing on the woman and then walking out of the store with her children.
Sprague, who described herself as a brain tumor patient and was wearing a mask, later filed a police report, saying she had not been feeling well since the incident, News4Jax reported.
‘I was a little shocked to have her really kind of weaponize the threat of the virus,’ Sprague told Action News Jax. ‘It was an act of aggression, and so I was really surprised.’
On Monday, Hunter pleaded guilty after Judge James Ruth told her that he was ready to pick a jury. She also had agreed to plead guilty on two previous hearings, but the judge rejected them because it didn’t involve jail time.
Meanwhile, Hunter — who could get up to 60 days jail at her sentencing – said she was not seeking ‘mercy,’ but urged the judge to take into consideration the backlash she has endured since the episode.
Karma knows no bounds.
In a three-page letter, she said her kids ‘continue to suffer indignities caused by my mistake […] embarrassed, chastised and mocked by both their peers as well as adults. Each of my three children have lost nearly every friend they had,’ First Coast News reported.
Split second, knee jerk reaction…or attitude of entitlement?
She said her family had experienced several traumatic events in the months leading up to the incident, including a near-fatal boat accident and a house fire that destroyed their home.
On the day of the incident at Pier 1, she wrote: ‘My daughter was alarmed when she noticed a stranger recording the three of us with her phone.
‘Admittedly I was immediately infuriated and demanded this customer to stop filming my kids. In the heat of the moment, I over reacted in an over protective manner which ultimately led to my retaliation on this stranger, the victim,’ she wrote, according to First Coast News.
‘And that highly regrettable, split second, knee jerk reaction has cost my family dearly,’ she added.
What goes round, comes round.
Hunter also submitted reams of vitriolic messages she said she has received, including one that read: ‘Despicable, vile skank. I hope your whole family gets COVID and suffers immensely, then dies.’
The politicization of face masks
Offered Hunter in her three page letter to the judge: ‘I often wonder what it would be like if every one of us, as the flawed human beings we are, had their worst moments reduced to a short video for all the world to see and judge.’
A sentencing hearing that began Wednesday is due to resume next month, reports First Coast News.
The episode comes amid ongoing politicization of the face mask, with many decrying it ‘limiting’ the freedoms of Americans, while others pointing to science, that wearing masks do save lives and at the very least preempt the further contagiousness of the deadly coronavirus.