Walmart cough couple officially charged

For Newton Now

Harvey County Chief Deputy Attorney Jason Lane filed charges today against two individuals for alleged threats at a Walmart store in Newton on April 6.

Hazel Hamrick, 29, of Hesston, and Ernest Williams, 47, of Hesston, are accused of stating and portraying Williams was infected with novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, to customers and employees inside the Walmart business in an attempt to cause fear.

Hamrick faces two felony counts of criminal threat. Each count carries a penalty range of 5-to-17 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Williams faces two felony counts of aiding and abetting criminal threat. Each count carries a penalty range of 5-to-17 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Both individuals also face one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct. The maximum penalty of that count is one month in county jail and a fine of up to $500.

Both individuals have posted bond, which was set by the District Court at $5,000 each.

Hamrick’s and Williams’ first appearances are scheduled for June 2 at 3 p.m.