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Murder trial for St. Louis bar owner ends in hung jury

Joshua Lundak had been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action after the 2020 shooting that left Jeffrey Amick dead.

ST. LOUIS — Jurors watched a surveillance video that captured a Soulard bar owner shooting and killing a man in 2020 -- but ended up tearfully telling the judge they were deadlocked on whether he was guilty of first-degree murder Friday.

At least one juror got into a testy exchange with Assistant Circuit Attorney Alexander Polta on the case after he asked her if he was "some kind of monster" for prosecuting the case.

Joshua Lundak shot and killed 42-year-old Jeffrey Amick in an alley. Lundak said he feared for his life.

"Yes," the juror told Polta. "He never should have been charged. He was defending himself and I'm afraid to defend myself in my own neighborhood now."

"Well, I wouldn't want to live in your neighborhood," Polta told her before walking away.

5 On Your Side interviewed the woman and two other members of the jury following the verdict Friday. All said they were divided 11 to 1 in favor of a not guilty verdict, even though the crime was caught on video. 

The evidence they said attorney Scott Rosenblum presented during trial convinced them that Lundak had reason to fear for his life when Amick approached him just before 8:30 a.m. June 5, 2020 an alley.

Rosenblum described the ongoing harassment of his client and threatening behavior by the victim. Rosenblum called it a year of a "campaign of terror" Amick aimed at Lundak and his fiance.

"He was more than just a nuisance in the neighborhood, he chose Josh and his fiance to terrorize for a year, pointing guns at them, shooting guns, following them, looking into their windows, you name it, he did it," Rosenblum said. "The guy was deranged."

"(Amick) came stumbling down the alleyway, confronted him, looked deranged and unhinged and he reacted, in my view, in a way the law allows him to," Rosenblum said.

Rosenblum noted that Amick's father testified that he, too, was fearful of his son whenever his son was under the influence of alcohol.

After the verdict, Judge Theresa Counts Burke told jurors -- many of whom were in tears -- they were the hardest working jury she's ever seen. 

They deliberated for 11 hours over two days before becoming deadlocked. 

Lundak, who owns Henry's bar in Soulard, was on his way to work when Amick approached him in an alley in the 2400 block of Indiana Avenue. That's in the south city neighborhood of McKinley Heights.

READ ALSO: Soulard bar owner wanted in south St. Louis murder

Amick was one of Lundak's neighbors.

In a probable cause statement for charges, police said Lundak was seen driving down the alley and stopped when Amick walked up to his car. The men start talking and then Amick throws something at the side of Lundak’s building.

Lundak is then seen using his car door as a shield as he shoots a gun multiple times at Amick, who falls to the ground injured.

Police said Lundak is then seen going into his building and walking out with a shotgun, which he uses to shoot Amick again.

“The defendant then walks back to his building, turns around, and notices the defendant is still not dead, so he walks back and shoots the victim again. The victim was unarmed,” police wrote in the court document.

Police said Lundak admitted to an off-duty officer that he shot someone in the alley. Investigators had said Lundak refused to turn himself in. They called him a flight risk “because he owns several properties and assets, including boats in the Miami area,” according to the probable cause statement.

Lundak has been in jail ever since awaiting trial. 

Rosenblum said he will soon seek a bond for his client.

"And, we'll do it again, this time convince 12," he said.