ATLANTA -

Joe Hundley, the Hayden man accused of assaulting a toddler on a cross-country flight, pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

But what he did admit to, and the reason why he lost his temper, takes his story in an entirely new direction.

Hundley appeared in an Atlanta federal courtroom Wednesday. This has been a closely watched case given that this man is accused of assaulting a 19-month-old boy and using a racial slur in the process.

On Wednesday, Hundley's attorney, Marcia Shein, gave his side of the story.  She said the night that the incident occurred he was traveling to Atlanta to decide to take his only son off life support. Because of this Shein said Hundley was under a great deal of stress, was very grieved and he'd been up for at least 24 hours.

All that said, Hundley said he did not slap the boy, but does admit to using inappropriate words. Court documents show he used a racial slur.

"When this happened on the plane, he said something inappropriate to Mrs. Bennett, he shouldn't have said even in his darkest hour, we hope for Mrs. Bennett's sake and for our client's sake that everyone will forgive him for what he said and to heal," Shein said.

Hundley's company, Unitech Composites and Structures, of which he was the president, fired him following news of the allegations.

If he is convicted of hitting the toddler, he faces up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 9.