JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A woman accused of coughing in the face of a cancer patient in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic changed her plea to guilty in a Duval County court Monday.
Debra Hunter was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault last June after she deliberately – and on video – coughed on a patron who was recording Hunter's squabble with employees inside a store at Jacksonville's Town Center.
The video went viral and the Nassau County woman soon became known as “The Pier 1 Cougher.”
Over the past nine months, Hunter and prosecutors have negotiated three different plea deals, but County Judge James Ruth rejected all of them.
Instead, the judge called for a sentencing hearing that will leave her punishment entirely up to him. Hunter is facing up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500. The sentencing was moved up one day to this Wednesday, Mar. 24 at 10:30 a.m.
Hunter is expected to call on several different witnesses to testify on her behalf. Her attorney also sent a packet of evidence to Judge Ruth for review.