Florida Woman Who Coughed On Cancer Patient Sentenced To 30 Days In Jail

by Kristine Cannon
debra hunter florida woman coughed on cancer patient
First Coast News/YouTube.

She purposely coughed on the brain tumor patient last summer while throwing a fit at Pier 1

A Florida woman was recently sentenced to 30 days in jail for intentionally coughing on a customer — a customer with cancer, no less — at a Pier 1 store last year. The disgusting, deliberate act was caught on camera last summer just a few months following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. And now, more than one year later, justice has finally been served.

Not only was Debra Hunter sentenced to 30 days in jail for coughing on Heather Sprague, a judge in Jacksonville also ordered Hunter to pay a $500 fine and serve six months probation. David Chapman, communications director for the state attorney’s office in Jacksonville, said Hunter must also participate in a mental health evaluation along with anger management, as well as cover the costs of Sprague’s COVID-19 test.

According to FirstCoast News, the sentence decision follows more than seven months of court hearings and three plea deal attempts, which were all struck down.

In the viral video recorded by Sprague, who is suffering from a brain tumor, Hunter is seen flipping off Sprague.

Hunter then walks up to Sprague and says, “I think I’ll get real close to you and cough on you. How’s that?” And she does, to which Sprague rightfully responds by calling Hunter an “asshole.” Other shoppers nearby are heard expressing their own disgust with the act.

As Hunter leaves the store with her young child, she turns around and tells Sprague, “You’re lucky I don’t hit you.”

Sprague, who is a mother of ten and a brain tumor patient at Mayo Clinic, writes on Facebook that Hunter was at the register “becoming increasingly belligerent.”

“She was screaming at, swearing, insulting, and threatening the staff as she demanded to return an item she didn’t have with her, just a photo of the item on her phone,” Sprague wrote. “The staff were professional and respectful. But they couldn’t return an item she didn’t actually have with her. She continued to rage.”

Sprague continued to say that she “did not speak, react, or engage” but simply documented Hunter’s behavior.

“When bullies are faced with accountability they must acknowledge the unacceptability of their actions,” Sprague wrote.

Following the encounter, Sprague told Duval County Court Judge James Ruth that she struggled for days to find a place where she and her family could get tested for COVID-19. However, they eventually found a testing site, and her family tested negative.

Hunter, on the other hand, was arrested last June after the recording went viral and served one day in jail.

FirstCoast News reports that Hunter’s husband told the judge they faced hardships leading up to the incident, including losing everything 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 said. “And then she finally rubbed up against something and just popped.”

Hunter added that her children continued 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 said in court. “And I know exactly what they’re feeling because I do the same thing.”

But Duval County Court Judge James Ruth wasn’t buying it.

“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, per The Hill. “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.”