Man Pleads To Slapping Crying Child On Flight

FBI: Flier wanted mother to "shut that nigger baby up"


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Baby Slap Guilty Plea

OCTOBER 2--The businessman arrested for slapping a crying toddler across the face during a Delta Air Lines flight--after demanding that the child’s mother “shut that nigger baby up”--pleaded guilty this afternoon to a federal assault charge.

During a hearing at U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Joe Rickey Hundley, 61, copped to a misdemeanor count in connection with the February 8 incident aboard Flight 721 from Minneapolis to Atlanta.

Pictured at right, Hundley faces a maximum of one year in prison (and a $100,000 fine) for assaulting someone under the age of 16. Prosecutors will recommend a six-month prison term when Hundley is sentenced in January. 

Hundley’s guilty plea was entered prior to the opening of his criminal trial, which was scheduled for tomorrow.

As TSG first reported, Hundley was seated in row 28 next to Jessica Bennett and her 19-month-old son Jonah (who shared seat 28B). According to Bennett, as the MD-90 twin-engine jet began its descent into Atlanta, Jonah “started to cry due to the altitude change.” As detailed in an FBI affidavit, Bennett told investigators that she “was trying to get [Jonah] to stop crying, but he continued.”

As her son continued to bawl, Bennett said, Hundley used the racial epithet and demanded that she quiet him. He then “turned around and slapped” the toddler in the face “with an open hand, which caused the juvenile victim to scream even louder,” according to FBI Agent Daron Cheney. The slap, Bennett recalled, “caused a scratch below [Jonah’s] right eye.”

A passenger on the flight told investigators that he “heard derogatory language coming from the rear of the aircraft” and saw Hundley strike the toddler.

Bennett told TSG that she thought Hundley was drunk when he boarded the plane, adding that he “reeked of alcohol” and consumed several double vodkas during the two-hour flight. He also complained, Bennett added, that her son was too big to be a “lap baby.”

At the time of the slapping incident, Hundley was president of an aircraft parts manufacturer headquartered in Hayden, Idaho. He has since lost that job and relocated to North Carolina, where he is looking for work in the aerospace field.

In a TSG interview following his arrest, Hundley claimed that he only “asked the mother to quiet the child.” He denied striking Jonah (seen at left) or using a racial slur, and said that he consumed only one alcoholic drink during the flight.

In 2007, Hundley was arrested following a drunken fight with his girlfriend. According to Virginia court records, he was initially charged with simple assault, public intoxication, and carrying a concealed weapon (which Hundley said was a wine corkscrew). He subsequently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault count. (5 pages)