Man accused of slapping toddler on plane pleads guilty, avoids trial

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The man accused of slapping a Minneapolis toddler on a plane earlier this year entered a guilty plea just hours before his trial was set to start Thursday morning in Atlanta, the Associated Press reports.

Joe Rickey Hundley had been charged with a misdemeanor count of simple assault that stemmed from the February incident on a flight out of Minneapolis. He had initially pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors have urged a sentence of six months in prison, the AP reports. A sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 6.

Witnesses had said Hundley used a racial slur in reference to a crying 19-month-old boy and then hit him under the right eye as the plane was on its way into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on Feb. 8.

Hundley had been sitting next to Jessica Bennett, of Minneapolis, when her son, Jonah, began crying from the change in cabin pressure, Bennett told the FBI, the Atlanta Constitution Journal reported. Bennett told investigators she was trying to get the child to stop crying, the newspaper reported.

Hundley used the N-word in reference to her son, Bennett told ABC News. “I said, ‘What did you just say?’” Bennett she told ABC. ”And 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.”

The Idaho executive turned himself in to authorities several days later and was released on a $10,000 bond.

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