Joe Hundley, alleged baby-slapper, explains mental state at time of plane incident
Hundley was en route to Atlanta to pull his son off life support when he allegedly slapped a 19-month-old.
Yesterday, Joe Hundley pleaded not guilty to slapping 19-month-old Jonah Bennett after calling him a "n***er baby" while on board a February 8 flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta.
And in a statement released by his attorney, Hundley, 60, explained why he was emotionally "distraught" at the time of the incident.
After the hearing, [Hundley's attorney, Marcia Shein] issued a statement on Hundley's behalf, saying that the day before the flight on February 8, her client had learned that his son had overdosed on insulin and was in a coma on life support...
"Mr. Hundley had been up for 24 hours over this tragic news and was heading to Atlanta to decide, with his son's mother, if they should take him off life support as he had no brain activity. On the flight he was in distress, upset and grieving," Shein said. His son died the next day, she said...
In her statement Wednesday, Shein acknowledged that Hundley "said something no one should say even in their darkest moments" when the boy began crying and that he "deeply regrets saying those words." But she said that Hundley did not "strike the child and believes what happened to Mrs. Bennett's child was an accident."
Hundley "had paid a terrible price for his hurtful words but asks only that people understand that he was not doing well that night and spoke hurtful words he would have not otherwise have said," Shein said.
But Hundley might have a hard time persuading a judge or jury with the I-didn't-hit-him argument when his case goes to trial this spring, as at least one eyewitness on the plane claims to have seen an intoxicated Hundley swat Jonah, leaving the youngster with a bleeding scratch below his eye.
In addition to now facing a federal assault charge that could cost him $100,000 and land him behind bars for up to a year, Hundley lost his job as vice president of AGC Aerospace & Defense after news of the plane incident went public. Little Jonah, meanwhile, was left with stranger anxiety in addition to his scratch, according to his mother, Minneapolis resident Jessica Bennett.
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