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Florida woman pleads guilty to coughing in cancer patient’s face

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A Florida woman faces up to 60 days behind bars after pleading guilty to deliberately coughing in a cancer patient’s face in a store – but is now reportedly asking a judge to consider the backlash she has experienced.

Debra Jo Hunter 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 whipped out her phone and began recording the heated encounter – prompting Hunter, 53, to make obscene gestures toward her.

“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.

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 in the slammer 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.

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.

Debra Hunter
Hunter said her family had experienced several traumatic events in the months leading up to the incident.
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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.

Debra Hunter
Debra Jo Hunter pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for the incident.
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“And that highly regrettable, split second, knee jerk reaction has cost my family dearly,” she added.

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.”

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Suspect arrested in fatal Brooklyn stabbing

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Police have apprehended a suspect in the fatal December stabbing of a Brooklyn man, cops said on Saturday.

The suspect, John Headley, 32, also of Brooklyn, was taken into custody Friday and charged with murder and weapons possession for the Dec. 12 knifing of Ken Baird, 37, police said.

Baird was stabbed multiple times in the chest following a dispute on Crown Street near Utica Avenue in Crown Heights at about 6:40 p.m., police said.

EMS transported Baird to King County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, cops said.

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Man dies after jumping from Staten Island Ferry

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A 53-year-old man died Saturday after jumping from the Staten Island Ferry into the chilly waters of New York Harbor, police said.

NYPD Harbor launch officers pulled the man out of the water after responding to reports of a jumper near the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan at around 2 p.m.

“He jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock,” an NYPD spokesman told The Post. He jumped off the Ferryboat Andrew J. Barberi, police said.

The unidentified victim was removed to Pier 11 and transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 3:10 p.m.

A newsstand worker said there were “about 50 or so emergency people” at Pier 11 following a valiant effort — which included CPR — to save the man’s life.

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An NYPD spokesman says the 53-year-old man “jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock.”

Michael Dalton

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The 53-year-old man was transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Michael Dalton

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Kemp Lashes M.L.B. as Republicans Defend Georgia’s Voting Law

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Mr. Kemp, who is gearing up to run for re-election in 2022, has striven to re-enter the good graces of Republican voters after becoming a central political target of former President Donald J. Trump because of his refusal to help Mr. Trump overturn the state’s election results last year. A former secretary of state of Georgia who has his own record of decisions that made voting harder for the state’s residents, he is again a key G.O.P. voice leading the charge on the issue.

On Saturday, he repeatedly tried to paint the league’s decision as driven by Stacey Abrams, the voting rights advocate and former Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia who is seen as likely to challenge Mr. Kemp again next year.

Ms. Abrams, one of the most prominent critics of Georgia’s voting law, has pushed back on calls for sports leagues and corporations to boycott the state. She said on Friday that she was “disappointed” baseball officials had pulled the All-Star Game but that she was “proud of their stance on voting rights.”

In defending the law in Georgia, Mr. Kemp singled out two Democratically controlled states, New York and Delaware, and compared their voting regulations with the new law in Georgia. Those states do not offer as many options for early voting as Georgia does, but they have also not passed new laws instituting restrictions on voting.

“In New York, they have 10 days of early voting,” Mr. Kemp said (New York actually has nine). “In Georgia, we have a minimum of 17, with two additional Sundays that are optional in our state. In New York, you have to have an excuse to vote absentee. In Georgia, you can vote absentee for any reason.”

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