Man accused of violating public health order pleads not guilty, setting up trial
EAGLE — The case against a Vail man facing charges for standing too close to another shopper in line at the Village Market in Edwards last April, in violation of a public health order, and then allegedly coughing intentionally in the direction of the shopper’s groceries and a cashier after being asked to step back, appears headed to trial.
Nathan Herries, 52, on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the several misdemeanor charges he faces in a case that is now nearly one year old. Charges include violating a public health order, criminal tampering, and menacing, as well as a disorderly conduct petty offense. Each is punishable by fines or up to six months or a year in county jail.
The not guilty pleas put Herries’ case on track for a one-day jury trial in Eagle County Court in early September.
According to an affidavit, an Eagle County Sheriff’s Office deputy started investigating the case against Herries on April 11, 2020, five days after county officials issued a public health order requiring non-household members to remain at least 6 feet apart.
The deputy responded to a call from Village Market to speak with a customer and a cashier. They said a man in the store was politely asked by the cashier to keep 6 feet away from the woman in line, when he became irate and started yelling about how he didn’t have to listen to them and how the two women were falling for a pandemic conspiracy the media were spreading. The man then walked in front of the woman and began coughing in the direction of her groceries and the cashier, and then spit as he walked out of the grocery store, according to the two women.
Reviewing surveillance video from the store, the deputy could not see actual spit or coughing coming from the man’s mouth because the video footage was grainy, according to the affidavit. On April 20, the sheriff’s office asked the public to help identify the man, and several tips came in leading the deputy to Herries, who was then cited for the alleged offenses.
According to the affidavit, Herries agreed to meet the deputy for an interview. Herries told the deputy that the cashier asked him to step back while he was in line to pay for his groceries, and that he told her that she watches too much TV. He also denied coughing or spitting in the store before he began speaking about his opinion of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the affidavit.
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.