Who is Debra Hunter? Florida woman seen coughing on brain tumor patient in viral clip gets 30 days in jail
Hunter was arrested in June 2020 after she was recorded on camera purposely coughing on Heather Sprague, a mother-of-ten, who was battling cancer and had a brain tumor
As the coronavirus pandemic raged in 2020, a video of Debra Hunter, a Florida woman, went viral. In it, she was caught coughing on a fellow customer at a store and was subsequently charged.
She has now been sentenced to 30 days in jail, been fined $500. She has also been ordered by a judge to serve six months on probation dealing with her anger management issues, according to David Chapman, communications director for the state attorney's office in Jacksonville. She is also required to compensate her victim, mother-of-ten, Heather Sprague, for the cost of her COVID-19 test.
Who is Debra Hunter?
Hunter was arrested in June 2020 after she was recorded on camera purposely coughing on Heather Sprague, during an argument with employees inside the store. Sprague, who has a brain tumor, had begun recording the heated encounter Hunter was having with the employees. Investigators say that Hunter saw Sprague and made a rude gesture. Then she walked up to her and was filmed saying, "I think I’ll get real close to you and cough on you... How’s that?"
As per the latest reports, Sprague told the judge that she spent a long time searching for a place where she and her family could be tested for coronavirus. "I worried for the health and safety of my children, and wondered how in the world I could possibly isolate to protect them - in a household of 12 - if I had been intentionally infected,” she reportedly said. She ended up testing negative.
Hunter's remorse leaves judge unaffected
Hunter's husband reportedly told the judge that leading up to the incident, the family had faced several hardships. According to a FirstCoast News report, Hunter's family had lost everything they had in a house fire. "It was like air being inflated into a balloon, and it finally got to the point where she couldn't handle any more air," Hunter's husband reportedly said in court. "And then she finally rubbed up against something and just popped."
Hunter while expressing remorse for her actions, said her children were now “permanently scarred” adding that the family had paid the price of her bad mistakes and that her children continue to lose friends. "I watch as my kids lower their heads and turn the opposite direction, so they won't be recognized or approached,” she told the judge. “And I know exactly what they're feeling because I do the same thing.“
But Duval County Court Judge James Ruth was having none of it. Before she ordered jail time, she noted that Hunter's testimony had little to do with how she may have harmed the victim and more on how her actions affected her family.
“Her children didn’t create this problem and her husband didn’t, and she talked about how it changed her world and she was getting nastygrams on Facebook and things of that nature and they can’t go to their country club or wherever,” the judge said. “But I have yet to see any expression or a significant expression on her regret about the impact it had on the victim in this case."