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Man Jailed For Slapping Toddler On US Flight
A man who admitted slapping a crying toddler on an Atlanta-bound flight has been sentenced to eight months in federal prison.
Joe Rickey Hundley pleaded guilty in October after reaching a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Hundley used a racial slur to refer to the 19-month-old boy, who is black.
Hundley then hit the toddler under the eye as the flight from Minneapolis descended to the Atlanta airport last February.
Prosecutors had recommended six months in prison.
The judge said he imposed a higher sentence in part because of Hundley's criminal history, which includes a prior assault.
Hundley was on a Delta flight on February 8 and was seated in a window seat next to Jessica Bennett, who had her son on her lap.
As the plane descended into Atlanta, the child started crying.
Hundley leaned over to Ms Bennett and "told her to shut that (N-word) baby up", according to a sworn statement from an FBI agent.
He then slapped the child's face, leaving a scratch below his right eye.
Hundley's lawyer said her client had spent the previous day talking to his ex-wife and doctors after his son was declared brain dead.
But US Magistrate Judge Alan Baverman said Hundley's loss did not provide an excuse for his actions.
"You cannot assault another individual, regardless of how sad or upset, or even how intoxicated or sick, you are," the judge said.
Before he was sentenced, Hundley told the court he took full responsibility for his actions and turned to apologise to Ms Bennett.
"I made the most terrible day in my life much worse for me and for others," he said.
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