St. Louis Man Gets 4 Years for Killing Unarmed Man on Camera

Today's plea came on the heels of a mistrial in April

click to enlarge Joshua Lundak. - COURTESY ST. LOUIS POLICE
COURTESY ST. LOUIS POLICE
Joshua Lundak.

A Soulard bar owner who shot and killed an unarmed man in McKinley Heights in 2020 pled guilty in court this afternoon to involuntary manslaughter after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Lundak, 41, appeared in court with his hair slicked back, wearing a plaid sports coat and sneakers. His plea was technically an Alford plea, meaning that he did not admit that he actually committed involuntary manslaughter but conceded that the state had ample evidence to convict him of the charge.

At the end of the hearing, after entering his plea, Lundak hugged and kissed his fiancé before a Sheriff’s deputy took him into custody.

On paper, Lundak's guilty plea came with a four-year sentence. However, he will get credit for time served in the City Justice Center while he was awaiting trial as well as credit for time he was on house arrest.

According to the Missouri Department of Corrections and the Bureau of Probation and Parole, inmates in Lundak's circumstance are eligible for parole after serving 30 percent of their sentence, says Lundak's lawyer, Scott Rosenblum.

Given those two factors, "He should walk in, walk out," Rosenblum tells the RFT. "I can't imagine it will be more than 30 days, two weeks."

Lundak was first arrested June 23, 2020, and charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action for shooting and killing Jeffery Amick on June 5 of that year.

Surveillance video from a nearby business showed Lundak, in a black Tahoe, pulling his car out of the building at Jefferson Avenue and Victor Street, where he leased space, and driving down an adjacent alley. Amick owned property on the other side of the alley and was outside.

The
click to enlarge Jeffrey Amick with his friend Judy Ford. - COURTESY JUDY FORD
COURTESY JUDY FORD
Jeffrey Amick with his friend Judy Ford.
 two men exchanged words, and Amick, who was intoxicated, threw something at the building across the alley. At this point, Lundak shot Amick with a pistol. He then ran back into the building, retrieved a shotgun and shot Amick again.

In court today, Assistant Circuit Attorney Alex Polta referred to the second shooting as a “coup de grace.”

This is actually the second time that Lundak stood trial for the crime. During the first murder trial in March, his laywer argued that Amick was a nuisance and had threatened Lundak in the past, leading Lundak to fear for his life when he encountered Amick that morning.

All but one of the jurors found Rosenblum's argument persuasive, resulting in a mistrial with the jury deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of a not-guilty verdict.

Polta said at the time, "I think the state's case will be better in round two."

Rosenblum seemed just as optimistic, telling KSDK, "We'll do it again, this time convince 12."

Lundak was released on bond and ordered by the judge to stay with family outside of St. Louis.

"I don't really like how the trial went," Amick's father, Gary, told the RFT. "The trial focused on Jeff's past, not the three minutes of video of the shooting."

Amick spent his younger years as a petty criminal with myriad convictions ranging from assault, to possession of controlled substances, to multiple DWIs. He assaulted a police officer and was arrested for bringing drugs in a prison.

While incarcerated in the early 2000s, he began to file lawsuits on behalf of himself and other inmates, and discovered a passion and talent for law. After his release, he enrolled at Webster University and earned a bachelor's degree in legal studies, followed by a certification as a paralegal from St. Louis Community College. He had completed course work toward a JD from the University of Illinois at Chicago's law school when he died.

click to enlarge A screengrab of a surveillance video shows Josh Lundak shortly before he shoots Jeffrey Amick. - PROVIDED
PROVIDED
A screengrab of a surveillance video shows Josh Lundak shortly before he shoots Jeffrey Amick.
Prior to the shooting, Lundak was known among Soulard bar crawlers as the owner of Henry's on South Ninth Street and Allen Avenue. Lundak took over the space when it was the Shanti and renamed it for a family name on his mother's side.

In the past three months, prosecution and defense reached a plea agreement. In addition to the murder charge being reduced to involuntary manslaughter, an armed criminal action charge was dropped entirely.

"Given that it was essentially a time-served disposition, we didn't feel the need to take that risk [of a second trial]," says Rosenblum. "We felt good, but nobody can predict the future."

In court today, the prosecutor Polta outlined how the case would have been different the second time.

Polta said he would have called to the stand one of Amick's law school friends who spent a significant amount of time with him prior to his death as well as a police officer who investigated Amick and found him not to be a public safety threat.

Polta added that he had done "additional investigation in the intervening months" and discovered links between Lundak and another individual who had attempted to buy Amick's property, offers Amick rebuffed.

"Does it leave a bitter taste in my mouth? Of course it does. The only son I had left living is now dead," Gary Amick tells the RFT about the outcome of the case against Lundak. "But I can't go to my grave keeping all this bitterness. It is just killing me inside. I can't do it. I just got to move on and focus on what I have left."

About The Author

Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times.
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