FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The last person to take the stand in the trial of Andrew Cassaday was Cassaday himself.
Cassaday, 29, is charged with murder and carrying a handgun without a license in the Aug. 14, 2016, shooting death of 28-year old Jeffrey Lute outside of Texas Roadhouse on Washington Center Road.
A friend of Lute told NewsChannel 15 after the shooting that Lute and several men were part of the Steel Horse Rebels motorcycle club, but he broke ties with the group after it changed from a charitable organization to a gang.
Outside of the popular chain restaurant that mid-August night, though, a physical altercation started between Lute’s group and current members of the motorcycle club. Several witnesses described the altercation throughout the trial. During the altercation Lute pulled out a handgun and shot a man, who was friends with Cassaday, in the leg. He then ran off around the restaurant.
During the trial Cassaday explained his side of the story. He said after he saw Lute shoot his gun, he didn’t see if his friend who was arguing with Lute was shot. However, he said that’s when he went to his car to get his gun. He told the jury he thought police would be there soon and wanted to have his gun in case he needed to defend himself.
Cassaday told the jury he started walking to the front door of the restaurant, not toward his friends, because he thought it would be safer in the light.Then a few seconds later he said he saw Lute come around the corner of the building and he shot.
“I was trying to get him away from me. I didn’t want to get shot next,” Cassaday told the jury as to why he shot.
He said he saw Lute fall, but didn’t know if he hit him with the shot.
“I never wanted to kill him,” Cassaday said, “I didn’t know he was dead.”
After shooting, Cassaday said he walked back to his car and picked up his friend who had been shot in the leg by Lute to take him to the hospital.
Cassaday’s attorney asked him how he felt when he fired the shot. Cassaday simply said he was frightened. Cassaday said he acted out of self defense, something his attorneys mentioned in the first day of the trial.
One of the last questions Cassaday faced came from a juror. They asked him what he would have done if he didn’t have a gun on him that night. He said, “I don’t know.”
In the final day of testimony the jury also heard from a man who was sitting in is car in the parking lot waiting for his girlfriend to get off work. This witness did not know anyone involved in the shooting and was one of the first people to call 911. He told the jury he saw an altercation start then the group of men moved around the building out of his line of sight. He said a few seconds later a man walked right in front of his car, stopped, held up a gun then fired after about three seconds. The man called 911 not knowing Lute had been shot at the time. He eventually got out of his car and saw Lute’s body.
Testimony in the trial ended Wednesday and the case is expected to go to the jury Thursday morning.
NewsChannel 15’s Holly Campbell will cover Cassaday’s trial in its entirety. She’ll have live reports at noon, 5 and 6 and regular updates on wane.com.