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article imageMan calls baby 'n-word' and assaults him on plane, gets 8 months

By Angela Atkinson     Jan 6, 2014 in Crime
Idaho City - Remember that guy who got arrested for slapping a toddler on a plane last February? He will spend the next eight months incarcerated, a judge decided Monday.
The Idaho man on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta was seated in a window seat next to a young mother who held her toddler in her lap.
Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, was accused of referring to the 19-month-old black child by a racial slur before hitting him under the eye as their flight landed in the Atlanta airport.
When the plane began to descend, the pressure became too much for the toddler, who couldn’t understand what was happening.
"Jonah starts crying because he's feeling the pressure in his ears," his mother, 33-year-old Jessica Bennett, later said of her adopted son.
When the baby began to cry, Hundley leaned over to Bennett and told her to “shut that (n-word) baby up,” according to a sworn statement from an FBI agent who investigated the incident at the time.
When she thought she must have misunderstood him, the mother asked the man to repeat what he’d said — and he did, word for word.
"He was so drunk that he fell onto my face, and his mouth moved over to my ear and he said it, just directly into my ear," she later told ABC News.
As she reeled in shock, Hundley reached over and struck the baby in the face, leaving a scratch below his eye.
"When I had looked at Jonah's face, he had, his eye was swollen…and it was bleeding," Bennett said. "I was just scared to death."
What happens when you assault a toddler
Soon after the incident hit the media, Hundley lost his job at AGC Aerospace and Defense, Composites Group.
In October, Hundley pleaded guilty to simple assault after prosecutors reached a plea agreement with him and recommended he spend six months in prison.
Hundley, however, argued for a lower sentence, to which Judge Alan Baverman responded by imposing a higher sentence of eight months. Baverman cited Hundley’s criminal history, which also includes a prior assault.
Marcia Shein, the attorney hired to defend Hundley, objected to the increased sentence since it deviated from the recommendation in the plea agreement. She said after the hearing that the sentence was disproportionate.
Before the judge issued his sentence, Hundley told Baverman he took full responsibility for the incident before he turned to apologize to the toddler’s mother, Jessica Bennett, who attended the sentencing.
A little background
Though Hundley absolutely behaved inappropriately by societal standards and may have even been intoxicated, there are extenuating circumstances that may soften your feelings toward the convicted man.
Before you judge Hundley too harshly, consider what may have led him to behave so despicably — the reason he was on that plane that cold February day.
His only son was in a coma in Atlanta after he overdosed on insulin, which doctors suspected may have been a suicide attempt, according to statements Shein has released.
He had spent the day before in communication with his ex-wife and his son’s doctors, who informed him that his son had been declared braindead.
Hundley had booked the flight to Atlanta at the last minute in order to be there with his ex-wife when doctors took their son off life support.
More about Crime, Delta, Joe Rickey Hundley, jessica bennett, Flight
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