Family, Prosecutor React to Steak 'n Shake Murder Verdict and Loss of Victims
"It's a grief that won't go away," said one victim's sister.
Family members and prosecutors reacted to the first of two verdicts in the Steak ‘n Shake murders Monday morning, saying they they were relieved by the verdict, but still grieved by their losses.
Judge Richard C. Bresnahan’s found Oundre Akins guilty on all counts, including two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two Steak ‘n Shake employees, Tammy Cantrell and Mark Gerstner.
Cheryl Cantrell, 50, of South County, said she lived with her sister for 44 years and the two had plans for the future. Losing her has been traumatic, she said.
“It knocks you down everyday and takes the breath out of you,” Cheryl said. “It’s a grief that won’t go away.”
Mark Gerstner’s uncle, Scott Lanemann, 41, of St. Louis, thanked the judge and said the family is happy with the verdict. Lanemann noted that Gerstner had a daughter, who now is 8 years old. Gerstner was 24 when he was killed.
“He was a great father who was working to support his daughter,” Lanemann said. “He just did everything right. He had plans, he was going to technical school.”
Lanemann said, “Unfortunately, he was a victim of an incredibly animalistic decision.”
Cheryl said her sister was full of life.
“She was always laughing, always having a good time,” Cheryl said. “She was kind. She was smart, she was funny.”
Tammy also worked three jobs—at Steak ‘n Shake, Little Caesar’s and Hickory Farms at the mall—while attending St. Louis Community College-Meramec.
“She wanted to do more,” Cheryl said.
The two planned to go to the Atlantis resort in Bermuda together, she said.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said he was happy with the verdict because it is appropriate based on the evidence.
“Having said that, we currently have Anthony Akins currently scheduled for trial (this summer), and he’s charged with first-degree murder. We’d like to get that resolved as quickly as possible.”
Anthony Akins was slated to accept a plea deal in exchange for his testimony against his brother; he pulled out of the deal last week.
Sentencing for Oundre Akins is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 21. However, McCulloch said the only possible sentence he can receive for first-degree murder is life in prison without parole.
For more trial information on Mehlville-Oakville Patch, see the following articles:
- Oundre Akins is Found Guilty on All Six Counts in 2008 Steak 'n Shake Murder Case
- Steak 'n Shake Trial Closes With Arguments on Decisions, Crime Scene and Confessions
- Videotaped Confession Shows Oundre Akins Describing Steak 'n Shake Murders
- Steak 'n Shake Murder Trial Heads into Second Day; Prosecutors Face Setback