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The Journal Gazette

  • Cassaday

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 1:00 am

Friend of man shot, killed at steakhouse recalls night

FRANK GRAY | The Journal Gazette

One of Jeff Lute's best friends described his last night alive to a jury Tuesday.

Andrew Cassaday is charged with murder, using a firearm in a crime and carrying a handgun without a license in connection with Lute's death.

Justin Clark, who said he and Lute were like brothers, said they left Texas Roadhouse the night of Aug. 14, 2016, and gone to their car when 10 to 14 people “popped up, like a flash mob,” and converged on them.

Some of the men, members of a motorcycle club Lute used to be associated with, were swearing at Lute.

One member of the group charged at Lute and shoved and punched him. Lute told him to leave him alone as he backed up, Clark said.

Lute, who was licensed to carry a gun, then pulled his gun and shot the man in the leg.

The man who had been shot yelled “someone go kill that (guy),” Clark said.

By this time Lute had his cellphone out and was recording everything. He yelled “call 911” and turned and ran around the back of the restaurant.

Someone yelled, “He's coming around the building. Somebody get him,” Clark said.

Meanwhile, Cassaday walked quickly to his car, told his girlfriend to give him his gun and waited for Lute to come around the restaurant. When he appeared around the corner, Cassaday shot him, Clark said.

Cassaday then calmly walked to his car, picked up the man who had been shot in the leg and left.

Everyone quickly scattered, Clark said, and within a minute police arrived and discovered Lute, dead near a corner of the restaurant.

Lute had been hit in the right side of the neck. The bullet passed through his neck and severed his spinal cord, killing him instantly.

The defense has called the shooting self-defense, but the prosecution said Cassaday wasn't defending himself but ambushed Lute.

On Monday, the woman with Cassaday that night testified that the gun he used wasn't hers.

The trial is going into its third day today. It has been scheduled to last five days.

fgray@jg.net