Jessica's Bennett's toddler, Jonah (screenshot, WSB-TV)

On Wednesday, Joe Rickey Hundley pleaded guilty in Atlanta federal court to charges stemming from an incident on a Delta Airlines plane in February, in which he allegedly slapped a black toddler and told the child's mother, Jessica Bennett, to shut the child up, using a racial slur. According to the Associated Press, Hundley faced a misdemeanor simple assault charge.

The guilty plea was part of a deal to avoid taking the case to trial (originally scheduled to begin Thursday), after which he would have faced a one-year maximum term if he lost. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Hundley will now serve up to six months in federal prison, in addition to undergoing anger-management counseling and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. 


Bennett was seated in the same row as Hundley on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta Feb. 8. She held her adopted son, Jonah, in her lap. Hundley asked flight attendants if Bennett was breaking the rules by keeping him in her lap. As the flight descended into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the boy began crying. That's when Hundley told Bennett to shut the child up, using the n-word, and then smacked the boy under the right eye, leaving a scratch. Hundley was also said to be intoxicated at the time.

The sentencing hearing is now scheduled for Jan. 6, 2014. Bennett will more than likely be in attendance and testify, according to prosectors.

Read more at the New York Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Jozen Cummings is the author and creator of the popular relationship blog Until I Get Married, which is currently in development for a television series with Warner Bros. He also hosts a weekly podcast with WNYC about Empire called Empire Afterparty, is a contributor at and works at Twitter as an editorial curator. Follow him on Twitter.

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