An Idaho man accused of slapping a 2-year-old boy on a flight to Atlanta has pleaded not guilty to assault, but has admitted to uttering a racial slur during the incident.
Joe Rickey Hundley of Hayden, Idaho appeared in court Wednesday following his Feb. 8 altercation with the crying toddler and his mother, Jessica Bennett. While on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta, court documents allege the 60-year-old man told her to “shut that n*gger baby up” and struck the upset child while Bennett tried to soothe him.
Hundley was charged with simple assault and later released after posting $10,000 bond.
Marcia Shein, Hundley’s attorney, said her client has admitted to using the racial slur out of his own frustrations. Hundley was reportedly on his way to Atlanta to take his only child off of life support after overdosing on insulin; his son died days later.
“He was grieving and very upset,” Shein told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s why we’re going to trial.”
Hundley, who was fired from his is job at AGC Aerospace and Defense, Composites Group, could face up to one year in prison and be ordered to pay a $100,000 fine if convicted.
Hundley’s next court appearance is April 9.