CLAYTON, Mo. (KSDK) - The trial of a Cahokia man, accused of murdering two Steak 'n Shake employees in November 2008, started Monday morning.
Oundre Akins, 23, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, robbery, and armed criminal action for the deaths of 44-year-old Tammy Cantrell and 24-year-old Mark Gerstner.
Earlier this month Akins waived his right to a jury trial and is allowing Judge Richard Bresnahan to hear the evidence and decide his guilt or innocence.
In exchange for the request for a bench trial, prosecutors have tabled pursuing the death penalty if he is convicted of the crimes.
Akins and his brother, Anthony Akins, are accused of killing Cantrell and Gerstner inside the south St. Louis County restaurant during a robbery in the early morning of November 10, 2008.
The brothers had recently been fired from the restaurant, and the robbery netted only $173.
Anthony Akins pleaded guilty in June 2011 to six counts, including second-degree murder, which was reduced from first-degree murder during a hearing, in exchange for his testimony against his brother.
On Monday, first-degree murder charges were reinstated against Anthony ecause he changed his mind about testifying against Oundre.
Anthony's trial is set for July, and prosecutors say they will pursue the death penalty.
During the opening statements, prosecutors said the brothers planned the robbery for several weeks and bought firearms in advance. They said one of the brother's ex-girlfriends and their uncle both worked at the restaurant, and the ex-girlfriend let them know when the uncle would not be on duty.
On November 9, 2008 prosecutors say the brothers drove to the Steak 'n Shake in the 5800 block of Lindbergh Boulevard and found Cantrell and Gerstner alone inside the store.
Authorities say Anthony and Oundre had planned to disguise themselves, but when they pulled up Cantrell looked out the window and recognized them. Because of this they decided to enter without disguises.
According to prosecutors, the brothers drew their weapons when they entered.
When Cantrell told them they shouldn't be there, Oundre is accused of shooting her six times; twice in the head, three times in the torso, and twice in the hand.
Oundre allegedly ran out of bullets and told Anthony to give him his gun.
Gerstner was taken into the freezer and told to get on his knees. Prosecutors say Oundre asked Gerstner if Cantrell had told him their names, and Gerstner said yes.
Oundre is then said to have shot Gerstner in the back of the head.
The Akins brothers are said to have then left the restaurant in a vehicle, which was seen on a surveillance camera at a nearby Toyota dealership.
They also passed a St. Louis County officer. That officer did not yet know about the crime, but ran the vehicle's license plate through a database. The vehicle came back registered to Anthony Akins, but was not wanted so he did not pull them over.
The license plate check is time stamped, and police say it proves the Akins brothers, who live in Cahokia, were near the south county Steak 'n Shake at the time of the murders.
The officer learned of the murders the following day, and remembered the license plate check he performed. That scan led officers to Anthony and eventually to Oundre.
Police say during an interview with police Oundre admitted to the crime and had told a friend about the shootings. That friend said Oundre asked her if he could keep the guns at her place, and she agreed because she had not heard about the crime yet.
A forensic exam was performed on the guns, and they matched the bullets taken from the crime scene and the victims' bodies.
The defense reserved their right to an opening statement.
If Oundre Akins is convicted, he faces life in prison with no chance of parole.