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Baby slapper gets eight months in prison

By Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 7:37 AM EST, Tue January 7, 2014
 Joe Rickey Hundley was sentenced to eight months in prison, his lawyer said.
Joe Rickey Hundley was sentenced to eight months in prison, his lawyer said.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Joe Rickey Hundley will report to a prison, which has yet to be determined
  • He was sitting next to a woman and her baby while on his way to see his gravely ill son
  • He slapped the baby with an open hand, court document said
  • Lawyer calls eight-month sentence too harsh

(CNN) -- The Idaho man who slapped a crying 19-month-old boy on a Delta flight in February was sentenced Monday to eight months in prison, the man's lawyer said.

Joe Rickey Hundley pleaded guilty to assault in federal court in October.

Hundley's attorney, Marcia Shein, said Hundley will report to a yet-to-be determined prison but didn't say what the date would be.

She said she respects the judge's ruling but called the sentence "disproportionate" to the crime and added that it was two months longer than what prosecutors had recommended.

Attorney: Man regrets words about baby
Stranger accused of slapping baby

In February, Hundley was seated next to Jessica Bennett and her 19-month-old son in row 28 when Delta flight 721 from Minneapolis, Minnestoa, began its descent into Atlanta .

When the baby began to cry, Hundley allegedly told Bennett to "shut that (N-word) baby up," according to an FBI affidavit.

"(He) then turned around and slapped (the child) in the face with an open hand, which caused (him) to scream even louder," the affidavit continued. The boy suffered a scratch below his right eye.

Shein said in a February statement that her client was in distress and grieving during the flight after learning the day before that his son was in a coma, after overdosing on insulin.

Hundley was headed to Atlanta to decide whether or not to take his son -- who died the day after the flight -- off life support.

Shein said 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."

Will the slap heard 'round the country have lasting effects?

CNN's Janet DiGiacomo and Kevin Conlon contributed to this story.

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