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Saturday, May 27, 2017 1:00 am

Steakhouse gunman given 65-year term

Judge says he went looking for fight

FRANK GRAY | The Journal Gazette

Andrew Cassaday, convicted of murder in the shooting death of Jeffrey Lute in a north-side restaurant parking lot in August, was sentenced Friday to 65 years in prison.

The sentence was 55 years for murder and 10 years for use of a handgun in a crime.

Cassaday, 29, killed Lute in a shooting in the parking lot of Texas Road House, 710 W. Washington Center Road, after he and several other members of a motorcycle club went there to confront Lute, 28, who was once a member of the club.

Cassaday said during his trial in April he shot Lute in self-defense.

Witnesses testified Lute shot one of the men in the leg and ran around the building to get away.

While the other men ducked for cover, Cassaday went to his car, got a gun, waited for Lute to emerge from around the building and shot him, the prosecution said, calling it an ambush.

During sentencing, the prosecution said Cassaday had been in trouble as a juvenile and adult and had a felony conviction for marijuana possession.

The defense argued that Cassaday was remorseful, that at the time of the shooting he was under emotional stress because a friend had been shot and that Lute was carrying a gun.

Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck said the entire event was foolish and didn't have to happen. He said there was an undercurrent of bad blood between two people who were once good friends, and that Cassaday and other men were very aggressive when they confronted Lute as he left the restaurant.

He said they went to the restaurant looking for a fight and knowing that Lute, who always openly carried a gun, would be armed.

In giving Cassaday 55 years for murder, Surbeck noted that though Cassaday had a marijuana conviction it didn't rise to the level of being an aggravating circumstance.

But Surbeck also noted there were no mitigating circumstances to justify a lesser sentence.

In giving Casssaday 10 years for use of a handgun in a crime, Surbeck noted that Cassaday, being a felon, was “not allowed to carry a handgun, period.”

Family members of Lute had hoped for a heavier sentence.

But, Lute's brother-in-law, Jeff Getts, said, “No matter what the result was in there, it's not going to bring Jeff back. We have to wake up each day and face reality” that he's not here any more.

Larry Lute, Lute's father, also hoping for a heavier sentence, said they had “brought this defendant into my house many times,” but he killed his son in the end. He said that Cassaday had “shown no remorse throughout this ordeal.”

fgray@jg.net