An elderly Idaho man who slapped a crying baby on a plane several months ago has been sentenced in Atlanta to eight months in federal prison on Monday after pleading guilty to charges of simple assault.
Joe Rickey Hundley, 61, was accused of slapping a 19-month-old boy on board an Atlanta-bound Delta Air Lines flight last February, and in October he plead guilty to charges of simple assault.
While prosecutors suggested a sentence of six months, U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Baverman increased the sentence to eight months after considering Hundley’s past criminal history which includes another assault charge and other various lesser chargers.
Hundley’s lawyer, Marcia Shein, didn’t feel the lengthier sentence was necessary and claimed it was “disproportionate” to the crime committed.
Hundley was accused of not only hitting the young child for crying, but also for using a racial slur against the African-American boy as he slapped him under his eye.
Just before he was sentenced, the elderly defendant showed remorse for his actions as he turned to the child’s mother, Jessica Bennett, and apologized.
He also told Baverman that he was ready to take full responsibility for his actions.
Hundley was seated in a window seat on board the flight and Bennett was seated in the aisle seat next to him.
According to Bennett and other passengers on the plane, Hundley told Bennett to “shut that n****r baby up.”
When Bennett asked Hundley what he just said to her, he allegedly responded by slapping the baby and repeating the racial slur.
The young boy was left with a small scar on his face after the incident.
Initially, Hundley denied ever touching the baby boy, then changed his story and blamed it on his own emotional hardships.
At the time, Hundley’s own son was in a coma in Atlanta due to an insulin overdose that was the result of a suspected suicide attempt.
His son was soon after declared brain dead and Hundley was headed to Atlanta to take his son off from life support.
“I made the most terrible day in my life much worse for me and for others,” Hundley told the judge before he was sentenced.
Hundley has been undergoing counseling since the incident and has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings since March.
He has also been ordered to pay Bennett restitution of $105 and pay a fine of $2,500 to the government.