by: Craig Lucie Updated:
ATLANTA - A man accused of slapping child and using a racial slur on a flight bound for Atlanta pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday.
The case was supposed to go to court Thursday, but Joe Hundley told his attorney he couldn't go through a trial. Hundley told the judge that he has been going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings every day.
"He's depressed and this is a sad day for him. It's hard. It's hard," said Hundley's attorney Marcia Schein.
Schein said he is sorry for the harm he has caused the Bennett family. She said he had been up for more than 24 hours and was flying to Atlanta to take his only child off
"He was in a bad place. Grieving, stressed out and he had a drink on the plane," Schein said.
Hundley received a call that his son overdosed on insulin and had to be taken off
life-support. Schein said he had to take the next flight out from Minneapolis to get to Atlanta.
The toddler's mother, Jessica Bennett, told Channel 2 Action News that Hundley took out his anger on her adopted 19-month old son Jonah, calling him a racial expletive and then slapped the boy.
That's when Bennett's attorney said other passengers jumped up to help.
"They heard the words and several of them stood up. Apparently a gentleman from 12 rows in front started walking towards them," explained John Thompson.
Hundley's employer fired him after he was charged with simple assault over the incident.
Bennett's attorney said the family wanted more repercussions after the Feb. 8 incident.
"The government is recommending six months to go to jail. Our feeling is that it's not necessary in light of the punishment that he's already received," Schein said.
The judge set Hundley's sentencing date for Jan. 6, 2014.