Friday, August 12, 2022

‘Oh My’: Judge Reacts to Maskless Woman Coughing on Cancer Patient in Pier 1 During Court (Watch)

Duval County Circuit Court Judge James Ruth
Virtual court hearing with Duval County Circuit Court Judge James Ruth

*Duval County Circuit Court Judge James Ruth has gone viral for his reaction to seeing the June 2020 video of the infamous maskless woman inside of a Jacksonville, Florida Pier 1 who deliberately coughed on a cancer patient that had asked her to wear a mask.

Ruth, who ended up sentencing the woman to 30 days in county jail, said he’s not on social media and never saw the full viral video of Debra Hunter coughing in the face of Heather Sprague at the store in St. Johns Town Center. He appeared taken aback with the testimony of Sprague, who said she was undergoing treatment for a brain tumor at the time of the assault.

“She said ‘I think I’ll get real close to you and cough on you, how about that?'” Sprague told the judge, referring to Hunter.

“She said those words?” Ruth asked.

“Yes, your honor,” Sprague said then describing Hunter’s hand gestures to her before the assault.

“I believe the kids call it ‘flipping me off’ or the ‘double bird’,” she said to Ruth who seemed unaware of the meaning.

Watch Sprague’s testimony below:

After Sprague finished her statements, Ruth said, “I want to see the video.”

The prosecution then played First Coast News’ YouTube video of Hunter’s assault, including her two middle fingers raised toward Sprague.

After the video played, Ruth said: “Oh my.”

Watch below:

Prior to seeing the video for the first time, a handful of Hunter’s family and friends testified as character witnesses on her behalf, including her husband, who said that her actions in the store were an aberration. Hunter also read a letter to the court about how her actions negatively impacted her life and the lives of her family and friends.

Watch Hunter’s testimony below:

Before handing down his sentence on Thursday, Apr. 8, Ruth said he was concerned with the suspect’s focus on her family and lack of remorse for the victim.

“We heard how it changed her life … she’s getting nasty grams on Facebook and things of that nature and can’t go to the country club or where ever … but I’ve yet to see any expression or significant expression on her regret on the impact it had on the victim in this case,” Ruth said.

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