Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, of Idaho, entered a not guilty plea in federal court in Atlanta Wednesday.
Hundley is accused of assaulting 19-month-old Johah Bennett on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta on Feb. 8.
The child was sitting in the lap of his adopted mother, Jessica Bennett, when she told police Hundley told her to "shut that 'N-word' baby up."
"I was having trouble comforting him and that's when the guy had made his comment to me," said Bennett.
Marcia Shein, Hundley's attorney, said Hundley made the derogatory statements because he was stressed and grieving.
"He said something inappropriate to Mrs. Bennett he shouldn't have said even in his darkest hour," said Shein. "We hope for Mrs. Bennett's sake and our client's sake that everyone will forgive him for what he said and to heal."
Bennett said Jonah started crying when the plane started its final descent into Atlanta. She told police Hundley reeked of alcohol. He reportedly yelled another racial slur at her and then slapped Jonah in the face.
"I could not believe that he would say something like that to or about a baby, and then to hit him? I felt like I was in another world," said Bennett.
"She said what he said and he's admitting that, but that wasn't a crime, that was just an inappropriate statement in a very difficult time for him," said Shein.
CBS Atlanta asked Shein if Hundley slapped Johah. She responded by saying they entered a guilty plea in court and they are going to trial.
The incident cost Hundley his job as a top executive with Oklahoma-based AGC Aerospace and Defense.
Bennett and her husband want Hundley to pay for what he allegedly said and did to their son.
"We hope he is punished as much as he possibly can be," said Bennett.
Hundley's trial date is May 13.
Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Friday, May 17 2013 7:16 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:16:53 GMT
One person has died in a crash near Harrisonville, MO, Thursday evening. The crash happened on Missouri Highway 7 and Walker Road. It involved a car and a tractor-trailer. Harrisonville is in Cass County.More >
Savannah Nash celebrated her 16th birthday last week. She died Thursday when her car slammed into a semi while she was texting during her first time driving by herself.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 8:25 AM EDT2013-05-22 12:25:04 GMT
Two billboards just went up around Atlanta to help get the word out Atlanta first responders and their families pushing for a better raise. The digital billboards are on Northside Drive at North Avenue,More >
Two billboards have gone up showing Atlanta first responders and their families are demanding raises.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 3:55 PM EDT2013-05-22 19:55:44 GMT
Newton County Animal Control confirms that a fox bit two children on the playground of Rocky Plains Elementary School around 11 a.m. Officials set up a trap in the area, but the fox has not been caught. CBSMore >
Newton County Animal Control confirms that a fox bit two children on the playground of Rocky Plains Elementary School around 11 a.m.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 10:21 AM EDT2013-05-22 14:21:02 GMT
Authorities have issued an Amber Alert for a one-year-old girl who was in the backseat of a car stolen from a daycare center in Forest Park. It was just after midnight Wednesday when officers receivedMore >
A toddler who was in the backseat of a car that was stolen from a daycare center in Forest Park overnight is now safe in her parents' arms.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 2:56 PM EDT2013-05-22 18:56:54 GMT
(RNN) – Of the 24 killed in the EF-5 tornado that decimated Moore, OK, 10 are children - two of which are infants according to a release by the Oklahoma City Medical Examiner's Office. All the childrenMore >
Six people are still unaccounted for in Moore, OK. Ten children, which includes two infants, were killed by the EF-5 tornado, according to the Oklahoma City Medical Examiner's Office.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 2:25 PM EDT2013-05-22 18:25:58 GMT
Atlanta firefighters are battling a large fire at United Transmission in downtown Atlanta.The building is located at 350 Marietta Street.Marietta Street near Ivan Allen Boulevard is closed.It is unclearMore >
Atlanta firefighters battled a large fire at United Transmissions in downtown Atlanta.More >