Videotaped Confession Shows Oundre Akins Describing Steak 'n Shake Murders
Akins' attorney objected to admitting the confessions as evidence, saying his client asked for a lawyer before confessing.
Several key witnesses for the prosecution testified Tuesday in the second day of a first-degree murder trial against Oundre Akins. But the most critical witness was Akins himself.
During the trial, prosecutors played a videotaped confession in which Oundre Akins tells how he and his brother, Anthony Akins, robbed the South County Steak ‘n Shake at about 3:38 a.m. Nov. 10, 2008.
During the confession, given about three days after the murders, Oundre said he and his brother had a plan to rob the Steak ‘n Shake, their former workplace. Oundre also said he shot and killed two employees, Tammy Cantrell and Mark Gerstner.
Akins’ attorney Donald Lee Catlett renewed an objection that the videotaped confession not be admitted as evidence. In a pretrial motion, Catlett had moved to bar the confession from the courtroom.
Catlett said that during the interview Akins asked for an attorney, but was not provided one. Judge Richard C. Bresnahan overruled Catlett’s objection.
A St. Louis County detective testified that he believed Akins was not requesting an attorney, but Oundre was challenging him to produce evidence, coupling the request the statement: “Put me in the car. Put me in the restaurant.”
But once Akins began talking to detectives, he took them step-by-step through the robbery and the shootings.
Akins described how Tammy Cantrell had looked out the restaurant’s rear door and saw them. The two brothers each had worked with Cantrell at the restaurant before being fired.
When Cantrell saw them come in the restaurant’s front door, “She said, ‘Y’all shouldn’t be here,’ ” Oundre said in the videotape. “Then I just shot her.”
Prosecutors said he shot Cantrell six times, emptying his .38 Special.
Oundre said he then took a .380 cal handgun from his brother, who had found Gerstner working in the freezer. Oundre told Gerstner to lie on his stomach.
“I said, ‘She told you our names, didn’t she?” Oundre said. He said Gerstner said yes.
“I shot him in the head,” Oundre told St. Louis County Police detectives. “I shot just one time.”
Handguns turned in
Oundre’s girlfriend at the time of the murders, Lalesia Bell, testified Tuesday that Oundre brought two handguns, bullets and spent seven spent shell casings and put them in her dresser drawer.
Bell said she looked in the drawer at the guns after Akins left, but didn’t touch them. After hearing about the Steak ‘n Shake murders, she talked to an attorney, who advised her to call police.
Lead prosecutor Dean Waldemar said Monday a ballistics expert would testify the firearms—a .38 Special and a .380 cal handgun—and shell casings matched the bullets used to kill Cantrell and Gerstner.
License plate check
Derrick Ahrens, a St. Louis County police officer in 2008, testified that he spotted Anthony Akins car leaving the Steak ‘n Shake parking lot or a lot close to it at 3:40 a.m. Nov. 10. He could not identify the occupants, but said he saw two black males in their early 20s in the car.
Ahrens said the car was the only one on South Lindbergh Boulevard at that time, so he ran a license plate check on the car.
It came back with proper registration and no warrants on the owner, so he followed it and watched as it turned onto Interstate 55 and headed towards Illinois.
Waldemar also presented photos of the white 1988 Buick and the St. Louis County Police car from cameras across the street at a Honda dealership.
‘You don’t belong here’
Prosecutors played a video of Kevin Norris, Akins’ friend, giving a videotaped interview to police days after the shooting.
Catlett again objected to admitting the interview as evidence, but was overruled. Catlett said Norris could not remember the testimony and could not say whether it is accurate.
On the tape, after denying several times that Oundre Akins told him about the shootings or where the guns were hidden, Norris gave the following testimony on the tape:
“He say he go up in there and told her, ‘Get down on the floor,’ and she say, ‘You don’t belong here,” and he started shooting,” Norris said on the videotape.
Norris testified Monday that he couldn’t remember giving the videotaped testimony to police.
Catlett repeatedly asked Norris if he remembered speaking to Akins about the shootings, talking to police, what he said to police or if it was truthful or not. Norris said he did not remember.
“The reason you don’t remember is because of the excessive amount of weed and liquor you used, is that true,” Catlett asked.
“Yes sir,” Norris said.
Catlett said police enticed Norris into telling by offering to drop a weapons charge against him.
Prosecutors replied that Norris knew details about the case not released to the public at the time.
“You’re not saying what you said is untrue, you’re just saying you don’t remember,” a prosecutor asked Norris.
“Right,” Norris said.
For more information on the trial on Mehlville-Oakville Patch, see the following articles: