Joe Rickey Hundley was sentenced Monday by a federal judge to serve 8 months in prison for assaulting a 19-month-old child on February 8 of last year.
According to FBI documents, Hundley, a resident of Idaho at the time, committed the offence while on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta. He was seated next to Jessica Bennett, a white woman who was carrying her adopted black toddler on her lap. As the plane descended into Atlanta, the child started crying and Hundley told the mother to "shut that N****R baby up." Hundley then slapped the baby, leaving a scratch below the child's right eye.
After reaching an agreement with prosecutors, Hundley pleaded guilty to simple assault against a toddler and also admitted to using a racial slur against the child.
In court, Hundley expressed remorse for his behavior telling the judge that he accepts full responsibility for his actions. "I made the most terrible day in my life much worse for me and for others," Hundley told the judge.
According to Hundley's lawyer, Marcia Shein, Hundley's grieving for his son and his alcohol intoxication contributed to his actions. Turns out that Hundley booked a last-minute flight to Atlanta to meet with his ex-wife so that they could take his son off of life support. His son was declared brain dead after being in a coma at the hospital due to an apparent suicide attempt.
Although the prosecutors had recommended a 6-month sentence, Judge Alan Baverman said he imposed a higher jail term because Hundley has a criminal history which includes a prior assault. The judge told Hundley, "you cannot assault another individual, regardless of how sad or upset, or even how intoxicated or sick, you are."
Hundley’s lawyers strongly objected to the ruling saying the sentence was not proportionate to what had been agreed to in the plea agreement with the prosecutors.
The 8-month sentence was not the only punishment for Hundley. Judge Baverman also ordered a year of supervised release, alcohol and anger management treatment, 120 hours of community service and restitution of $105 to Jessica Bennett. He will also have to pay a $2,500 fine to the government.
Hundley was not taken directly to prison after the ruling, more time is needed for assignment but he and his lawyer are considering an appeal.
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