WARRENTON — Quinton Canton Jr., one of two men charged in the shooting death of Mexico, Mo., restaurateur Komninos “Gus” Karellas, was convicted of second-degree murder Wednesday. The verdict came on the one-year anniversary of Karellas’ death.
The verdict could be seen as a small victory for the defense, which spent most of the two-day trial attempting to prove that Canton, a former employee of G&D Steakhouse, planned to rob Karellas not murder him.
Canton and Lance Berry, both 17 at the time of the killing, were arrested and charged with killing Karellas behind the G&D Steakhouse in Mexico, Mo., last November. Canton, who was also convicted Wednesday of first-degree robbery and two counts of armed criminal action, will be sentenced today during the trial’s penalty phase. Berry was convicted of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and two counts of armed criminal action last month.
On Wednesday, the prosecution presented forensic evidence that showed that it was Berry and not Canton who delivered that fatal shot from a .45-caliber semi-automatic hand gun. It was prosecuting attorney Kevin Zoellner’s contention, however, that by planning to rob Karellas with a gun, Canton’s actions directly contributed to Karellas’ death and he should be convicted of first-degree murder.
In the defense’s closing statement, public defender Elizabeth Irvine said that Canton and Berry were “kids who got in over their heads.”
The most significant testimony during the trial’s second day was by David Rice, an investigator for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, who interviewed Canton twice on the day he was arrested. Rice testified that Canton gave several stories of the events that took place on the night of the murder, but eventually Canton said that it was Berry who shot Karellas.
A one-hour video of the second interview was shown in court. Canton told Rice the plan was not to shoot Karellas, but to just rob him. Canton said that if Karellas refused to give up the money, the plan was to hit him with the guns.
“Go ask (Berry) why he shot (Karellas),” Canton said in the taped interview. “It wasn’t supposed to go down that way.”
During the interview, Canton’s emotions ranged from frustrated — “I am not talking until you get me out of jail,” he said with anger — to fear and tearful remorse — “I worked for Gus and knew the man,” he said crying.
Berry’s appeal for a new trial will be heard Dec. 6. If his appeal is not granted, he will be sentenced that day.
Canton’s mother, Donna Doyal, admitted to burning checks that were taken during the robbery and telling Berry to get rid of bloody clothing. Last May she pleaded guilty to four counts of tampering and two counts of hindering prosecution.