JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The owners of Wing Depot, who are accused of beating a 66-year-old Navy veteran outside an American Legion post, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to felony charges.
William Lodge, 60, is charged with aggravated battery, a second-degree felony, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
Terry Lodge, 55, is charged with third-degree felony battery on a person 65 or older, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
The Lodges had initially been charged with misdemeanor battery of Charles Hughes, who suffered multiple injuries and was hospitalized.
The Lodges, who were represented by new attorneys, had no comment after Tuesday's court hearing. They are due back in court July 19.
Surveillance video from inside the American Legion post on Fort Caroline Road shows the moments leading up the incident. In the video, Hughes is sitting on one side of the bar, and the Lodges are on the other side of the bar, just outside the frame, but visible in other camera angles.
At one point in the video, Hughes and others begin throwing coasters at the bartender, who was talking to the Lodges. After a few coasters are thrown, William Lodge is seen in the video pointing and yelling at Hughes. Hughes yells back at first, before the bartender walks over and appears to be yelling at him. Shortly after that, Hughes gets up and says goodbye to a couple of women at the bar. Ten seconds later, William Lodge walks behind the bar and out the same door, following him to the parking lot.
Police said the Lodges then beat Hughes in the parking lot, out of the view of surveillance cameras.
The arrest report noted that both the Lodges were “highly intoxicated” when they were arrested.
Attorney Gene Nichols, who is not involved in the case, said that the Lodges have hired very good attorneys, but it might be a difficult defense because of the surveillance video and the upgraded charges.
"What happened between those two men in the parking lot? You can expect for the male defendant in this case and his attorney to defend themselves on the ground that they were not going out there to start a fight," Nichols said. "What they have seen is that the victim in all of this, while he may not have been polite, he may not have been the way his mom would want him to be, he may not have been acting in the manner he should have been acting in, they believe that it did not rise to the level of what subsequently happened to him."