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Thursday, April 20, 2017 11:50 am

Jury finds man guilty in shooting death

FRANK GRAY | The Journal Gazette

A jury found a man guilty of murder and other charges this afternoon in the August shooting death at Texas Roadhouse. 

Andrew Cassaday, 29, was convicted of murder, carrying a handgun without a license and using a handgun in a crime in the Aug. 14 shooting death of Jeffrey Lute. The case went to the jury about 10:30 a.m. and jurors reached a verdict about 5:30 p.m.

Cassaday will be sentenced May 26 and could receive 65 years in prison.

In closing arguments, defense attorney Jon Tipton said the prosecution hadn't proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Cassaday, who has claimed the shooting was in self-defense, committed murder.

"What was in Andrew's heart?" he asked. "They have to prove he had a murderous intent."

Tipton said Cassaday had gone to the restaurant because he learned Lute was eating there and he wanted to confront him along with other members of a motorcycle club of which Lute used to be a member.

"He had no intent other than to argue or yell," Tipton said. That's not illegal. It's stupid, but not illegal, he said.

After Lute shot one club member who had backed him down through the parking lot and halfway past the building, Cassaday got his gun because he just wanted Lute to get back, Tipton said.

The prosecution, though, said Cassaday had lied on the stand and lied about the gun he used, telling his girlfriend to tell police it was her gun.

Deputy Presecutor Tom Chaille said Cassaday told five different stories about why he had gone to the restaurant that night. At first he said he went there because another club member had gone there, but he didn't know why. Then he said he'd heard something about Lute's name. Then he admitted getting a message about Lute being there, said he didn't know whether Lute was there, and finally said he'd gone there to confront Lute.

After one club member was shot, others took cover, but Cassaday didn't duck or flee or tell his girlfriend to get out. He went to his car, got his gun, went to the brightest spot in the parking lot and waited for Lute, who had run behind the restaurant, to come around the building, Chaille said. "He walks to where he (Lute) will emerge and ambushes him for the second time that night," Chaille said.

"It's not self-defense," Chaille said. "The threat was over."

fgray@jg.net