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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Defendant takes the stand in Texas Roadhouse killing

Andrew M. Cassaday
Andrew M. Cassaday
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 07:43 pm

"I did."

With those two words, Andrew M. Cassaday told a jury Wednesday afternoon in Allen Superior Court he shot and killed Jeffrey M. Lute, 28, on Aug. 14 at Texas Roadhouse, 710 W. Washington Center Road.

Claiming self defense, Cassaday took the stand to give the jury his version of events that night leading up to Lute's death. While most of his testimony matched prosecution witness accounts, his version varied from fellow Steel Horse Rebels motorcycle club members who earlier in the day testified on his behalf.

Cassaday, 29, of the 3200 block of Chancellor Drive, is on trial this week for killing Lute. He also is charged with being a felon carrying a handgun with a prior felony conviction within the last 15 years.

Cassaday also testified he bought the gun from a website a few years ago, even though he had no license to carry a gun. He said he let his girlfriend use the gun when she got her license, and after the killing told her, "You know this is your gun now."

Cassaday said he got the call to meet Phil Elkins on club business after a friend posted a Snapchat video to her story that showed her with Lute and other friends eating dinner at Texas Roadhouse.

Elkins, Cassaday and others gathered at a park bench, then dispersed to their cars to smoke. When Lute came out of the restaurant shortly at about 9:30 p.m., Cassaday said Elkins already had worked his way through the cars to confront Lute. Although Cassaday said there was never a group surrounding Lute, there were about seven or eight people standing around as Elkins and Lute yelled at each other, moving around the southwest corner of the restaurant. He said he didn't see Elkins touch Lute.

After Lute shot Elkins in the right leg, Cassaday said he went to his car and asked for his gun and started to walk toward the front door. He said he moved away from the cars because he didn't want bystanders to get shot. Cassaday testified when Lute ran around the back of the restaurant and rounded the northwest corner, he shot him. "I didn't mean to kill him," he said. Cassaday said he found out the next day that Lute had died at the scene.

Cassaday and other club members loaded Elkins into Cassaday's Chevrolet Impala and headed for the hospital. He reiterated to his girlfriend, "This is your gun now."

Upon cross-examination, Cassaday mixed up details about which member told him the members were going to confront Lute at the restaurant.

Jurors asked several questions, including, "What would you have done if you had no gun?" Cassaday answered, "I don't know. I don't know."

Elkins, who came into the courtroom sporting a cane, testified he went to Texas Roadhouse because "I wanted to chew his a—." He admitted he and Lute yelled at each other and poked each other in the chest in the moments before Lute shot him.

Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Thomas Chaille asked Elkins if he felt responsible for Lute's death. Elkins replied, "No. I've gotten into arguments before. I've never been shot before."

Chaille also made note that Elkins doesn't always use a cane when he's in public.

Elkins also denied any conversation took place regarding Cassaday's gun while they were on the way to the hospital.

Prosecution witness Dominic Gawreluk testified he was sitting in his car while waiting for his girlfriend to get off work when he noticed about six to eight men come between the cars and converge upon Lute. He lost sight of the altercation, in which he said one man grabbed Lute by the neck, after it went around the southwest corner of the restaurant.

He said he heard a gunshot, and a man walk to his car to get a gun. That man, Cassaday, walked up to the front right of his car and fire a shot to the northwest corner of the restaurant. He called 911 and reported the shootings.

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