“We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Lacey Neuman, the victim’s friend and witness.
Kim Hudelson, Lacey Neuman and Ashley Gardner said they wanted to listen to a jazz musician at the XO Cocktail Lounge at Northpark Mall on May 20.
Security camera footage shows Charles Verner approach the three women as they walked up to the lounge. Verner steps to his side, lifts his arm, pulls his elbow back and strikes Hudelson in the face.
Her friends told KFOR they watched her fall backwards and hit the back of her head on a brick bench while lounge bouncers and mall employees rushed in to help.
“He just punched her. He just flat out punched her for no reason,” said Gardner. “I honestly don’t know what was going through my head other than we needed to get help immediately.
“It was a full right cross, everything he had,” said Neuman. “He got a clean shot for sure.”
“Why? Why Kim?” asked Gardner. “Honestly, it looked like she was dead. She had blood coming from her mouth and from the back of her head; she was unconscious. It was terrifying.”
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Kim Hudelson was suffering from a double brain bleed. Now she’s healing from broken skull and jaw, along with a bruised tailbone.
“She’s lost her sense of smell and her taste right now,” said Neuman.
Minutes before the punch, police reported Verner was inside the lounge telling his girlfriend something was wrong and he couldn’t breathe. Verner said he needed to go to the hospital.
Verner’s attorney told KFOR that the 51-year-old was only drinking water. She believed her client had been drugged. She is currently working on getting a hair follicle test for him.
According to the police report, Verner was suffering from a medical episode and has no memory of what happened.
He was released from the scene only to be arrested a few days later.
Verner now faces maiming and aggravated assault and battery complaints while Huddelson heals.
“Bless her heart,” said Neuman. “She obviously has some long-term effects that she’ll have for the rest of her life.”