Delta flight attack suspect to remain in federal custody

KING 5

The man accused of attacking flight attendants and passengers on board a Delta flight to Beijing last week will remain in federal custody—at least for now. 

23-year-old Joseph Hudek IV of Tampa is charged with interfering with flight crew members and attendants during a flight from Seattle to Beijing on July 6.

Hudek didn't dispute remaining in custody during a brief detention hearing on Thursday, U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Emily Langlie said. His attorney wants to revisit the issue of detention in the future, but she said he'll remain at the federal detention center in SeaTac for now.

In Thursday's hearing, Hudek stipulated to be detained, meaning he can request a future hearing to ask for release.

Hudek's attorney Robert Flennaugh said that is still being investigated and prepared for the judge. 

"People who know the true Joe Hudek want him to be released," Flennaugh said. "During the first 24 hours of his detention, my office has received over 180 letters of support." 

Related: Criminal complaint filed against man who assaulted Delta flight attendant

Hudek was traveling on a dependent ticket in first class on Delta Flight 129 when he tried to open the emergency exit door mid-flight and attacked two flight attendants and a passenger. 

Court documents said crew members tried to restrain Hudek when he lunged for the exit door, rotating the door handle 90 degrees. He fought back, punching them and hitting two people over the head with wine bottles. 

A flight attendant hit Hudek with a wine bottle as well, and documents said he didn't seem phased, saying, "Do you know who I am?"

Flennaugh said Hudek's actions were uncharacteristic. 

"Flying is not new to him," Flennaugh said. "He has been flying in planes since he was five. In fact, he has flown over 100 times."

The plane was forced to turn around near Vancouver Island and return to Seattle, where passengers waited hours for another flight to take them to Beijing. 

Hudek feels awful about what happened and is apologetic to everyone on the aircraft, Flennaugh said.

Related: Seattle Delta flight turns around after passenger assaults attendant

Documents said Hudek was served one beer before the flight took off, but didn't seem intoxicated and didn't drink anymore during the flight. 

Hudek is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing July 21, unless a grand jury returns an indictment prior to that court appearance.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. 

© 2017 KING-TV


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