Life in prison for man who killed 2 at restaurant

LAYTON, Mo. (AP) — A man who killed two workers during a robbery at a St. Louis County Steak ‘n Shake restaurant was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole.

St. Louis County Judge Richard Bresnahan sentenced 23-year-old Oundr’e Akins. Akins was found guilty earlier this month of two counts of first-degree murder.

Akins’ brother, 24-year-old Anthony Akins, is scheduled to go to trial on the same charges in July. Both men are from Cahokia, Ill.

Authorities said the brothers broke into a south St. Louis County Steak ‘n Shake in 2008 and killed waitress Tammy Cantrell, 44, and cook Mark Gerstner, 24. The robbery netted them $173.

Authorities say Oundr’e Akins was the gunman. But prosecutors waived the death penalty in exchange for Akins agreeing to a trial before a judge rather than a jury.

Both men previously worked at the restaurant as cooks. Anthony Akins was fired, and Oundr’e Akins quit after being passed over for a promotion.

Authorities said they planned the robbery in advance, choosing a day when their uncle who also worked there had the day off.

Police said Oundr’e Akins confronted Cantrell at the front of the store and shot her seven times. Gerstner was taken to a back freezer and shot in the back of the head.

Anthony Akins faces a possible death penalty sentence after going back on an agreement to testify against his brother. He had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2011 as part of that plea deal. Charges were restored to first-degree murder after he backed away from the agreement.

Relatives said that Cantrell was working three jobs and going to community college. Gerstner was also going to school and worked to support his daughter, who was 4 at the time.

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