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ATLANTA -- A man who slapped a crying toddler on an Atlanta-bound plane has pleaded guilty to simple assault.

Joe Rickey Hundley appeared in federal court Wednesday afternoon in Atlanta.

Authorities said Hundley used a racial slur to refer to a 19-month-old boy and then hit him under the right eye as the flight from Minneapolis began its descent to the Atlanta airport on Feb. 8.

Prosecutors have requested a six-month sentence for Hundley. He is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

Hundley lived in Idaho at the time but has since moved in North Carolina. His lawyers said in court filings that his son was in a coma in Atlanta, and he was flying there to decide whether to take him off life support.