One decision by brothers Oundre and Anthony Akins pointed to first-degree murder in the Nov. 10, 2008 shootings at the South County Steak ‘n Shake, said St. Louis County lead prosecuting attorney Dean Waldemar.
During closing arguments in St. Louis County Circuit Court Wednesday, Waldemar said the pair bought guns and hollow-point bullets, planned the robbery, got up early and drove to Steak ‘n Shake.
But when they pulled into the back parking lot, the two brothers saw Cantrell look outside and spot them inside their car, Waldemar said. She knew the brothers because Cantrell worked at South County Steak ‘n Shake with them.
“(Oundre) said himself when Tammy saw him, ‘Why mask up?’" Waldemar said, referring to a videotaped confession. “At that very moment, he decided they were going to kill Tammy Cantrell and Mark Gerstner.
“With every step he took across that parking lot, they decided they were going to commit murder. That’s intent. That’s deliberation. That’s first-degree murder,” Waldemar said.
Defense attorney Donald Lee Catlett argued that there was no cool reflection on killing the victims.
“Murder in the first degree requires cool reflection. All the things he talked about are things that would be done in commission of a robbery,” Catlett said.
Catlett also said the taped confessions didn’t match the actual crime scene. He said the positions in which the bodies were found didn’t indicate the victims were down on the floor when shot.
“The physical evidence indicates two shooters, two different caliber guns, two victims shot in different locations,” Catlett said.
The defense attorney said evidence suggested that Cantrell struggled with her shooter, contrary to videotaped confessions.
“It doesn’t matter who was shot first. It doesn’t matter if Tammy Cantrell fought for her life. That just shows she wanted to live,” Waldemar said. “What matters is they planned this.”
A cash register receipt that printed out when they opened the register to steal $173 and surveillance videos at St. Louis Honda showed they were in the restaurant for 12 minutes, he said.
“The 12 minutes it took, that shows how this was planned,” Waldemar said.
Prosecution, defense rests
The prosecution rested Wednesday morning in the Steak ‘n Shake murder trail of Oundre Akins after bringing a St. Louis County firearms examiner and a pathologist to the stand.
When the trial resumed Wednesday afternoon, defense attorney Donald Lee Catlett announced he would bring no witnesses. Akins declined to testify.
Earlier in the morning, St. Louis County firearms examiner Michael Wunderlich testified that the bullets used to kill Cantrell and Gerstner matched the handguns and shell casings turned in by Lalesia Bell.
Bell was Oundre Akins’ girlfriend at the time of the murders. She said Oundre put the handguns in her dresser drawer.
Catlett said Bell gave different dates and conflicting testimony in her 2008 statement to police and a later deposition.
However, Waldemar said the deposition came in 2012, while her statement to police took place just days after the shootings, so her statement to police was more accurate.
Circuit Court Judge Richard Bresnahan said he would give a verdict at 9 a.m. Monday. Catlett requested a separate sentencing date and Bresnahan said he would consider it.
For more trial information on Mehlville-Oakville Patch, see the following articles:
- Videotaped Confession Shows Oundre Akins Describing Steak 'n Shake Murders
- Steak 'n Shake Murder Trial Heads into Second Day; Prosecutors Face Setback
- Live: Oundre Akins Murder Trial