NEW YORK, June 28 (UPI) -- Eugene Thomas King Jr., who pointed a gun at Paula Deen during a 1987 bank robbery, is defending the Georgia chef's use of the N-word when talking about him.
"I really feel for her. She's being persecuted because of that one little mistake in her judgment. She was acting out of anger," King told TV's "Inside Edition."
King said he has turned his life around after spending numerous years in prison.
"I regret that I pointed a gun at her and I wish there was a way to take it back," he said.
Deen, 66, admitted in a May deposition for a lawsuit she had used the N-word in the past. That comment, and her description of a so-called plantation-style wedding she would like to see, sparked a media firestorm.
In a "Today" show interview this week, Deen insisted she is not a racist and only used the N-word to describe the black man who stuck a gun in her face while robbing the bank where she worked.
J.C. Penney, Walgreens, Sears and Kmart said Friday they are moving away from their business relationship with Deen and the cable shopping channel QVC said it would "take a pause" in its dealings with her, the New York Post reported.
The Food Network, Smithfield Foods, Walmart, Home Depot and casino giant Caesar's Entertainment previously have said they would end their partnerships with Deen, who maintains partnerships with Alice Travel, Ladies Candies, Hoffman Media, Random House, Metropolitan Cooking Expo, Springer Mountain Farms and Epicurean Butter.