Richard Emery formally sentenced to death by St. Charles judge
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A St. Charles judge has formally sentenced Richard Darren Emery, 50, to death.
A jury found Emery guilty of four counts of first-degree murder in the 2018 shooting deaths of a St. Charles family and the jury sentenced him to death on all four counts. Judge Micheal Fagras formally sentenced Emery to death on November 3.
Emery admitted to shooting and killing his girlfriend Kate Kasten, 39, her children Jonathan Kasten, 10, Zoe Kasten, 8, and their grandmother, Jane Moeckel, 61, on Dec. 28, 2018 at their St. Charles home. But, he said he was in a disassociated state that evening and unable to understand his actions.
Prosecutors alleged Emery returned home from a night out and got into an argument with Kasten, after she confronted him about Jonathan’s feelings being hurt. Emery had purchased the boy a Lego set for Christmas but Kasten told Emery, he said, that Jonathan wished he had acknowledged his completion of the Lego set.
The fight spilled into their master bathroom, he testified, where Kasten slapped Emery across the face and told him, “Get the f*** out of my house.” While on the stand Thursday, Emery testified the argument grew into a physical fight, in which he admitted to pushing Kasten down and punching her. However, he testified to having no memory of retrieving his pistol from its safe in the nightstand.
Crime scene analysts testified to evidence indicating a total of nine shots were fired inside the home, seven of them hitting the victims. During a fight over the gun, they believe Emery fired two shots striking the wall and floor. Kasten was then shot once in the shoulder and once in the head, before prosecutors allege Emery stepped over her body, leaving a bloody footprint, to move into the next bedroom.
There, Jane Moeckel and her two grandchildren had barricaded themselves inside, with Moeckel on the phone with 911. In the frantic call played for the jury, she can be heard saying “He has a gun. He’s beating us.” Shortly thereafter, a loud sound can be heard in the background, which detectives believe was Emery kicking in the bedroom door. Several pops are then heard and the call goes quiet.
Moments later, someone can be heard saying “Why, why?” in the background, before a male voice says “What did you say to me?” and another shot is heard.
While testifying in his own defense, Emery said he did not know he shot Moeckel once in the face until the trial. When asked why he shot Jonathan three times, he broke down on the stand.
With police in route, the first officer to arrive on scene recounted approaching the home from down the street and seeing a pickup truck idling in the driveway. As he got closer, he testified he saw a man exit the home, turn around and lock the door, and calmly walk to the truck and pull out of the driveway.
After radioing a license plate number and description of the car, two other officers stopped Emery shortly after leaving the subdivision. There, prosecutors said he reloaded his .9mm and fired several shots at the officers. The officers were not struck but did return fire, striking Emery.
As he fled, the jury heard testimony from a woman nearby who was leaving a family Christmas party. As she was walking out to her car, she testified to seeing a man walking in her direction. She quickly got into her car, she said, but was unable to lock the doors before Emery opened the door and began stabbing her. She was stabbed seven times, five of those wounds to her chest. She testified to leaning against the car horn, hoping to get someone’s attention, however the panic button on her keys had somehow been initiated and Emery ran away. She returned inside the home to get help and survived the attack.
Emery then entered the Quik Trip on First Capital Drive covered in bloody clothing, according to testimony. After 911 was called to report a man covered in blood entering the bathroom, police closed in on Emery and took him into custody.
Emery’s defense attorneys argued his childhood experiences with abandonment and sexual abuse led to a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. They alleged the imminent breakup with Kasten that night led to an emotional response Emery was unable to control, arguing he was in a disassociated state during the killings. Emery told the jury the shootings were an out of body experience.
During Friday’s closing arguments, prosecutors argued Emery was aware of what he was doing, telling the jury, “each shot was an opportunity to reflect on what he was doing and he rejected that opportunity every time.” They said the bloody footprints found near Kate Kasten’s body were a sign that Emery thought about entering the other bedroom, when “he could have gone down the stairs and out the front door.”
Further, before leaving the house, Emery had close to a thousand rounds of ammunition and several firearms. Prosecutors told the jury it was a sign he anticipated the police response, aware Moeckel had been on the phone with 911 before he shot her. Emery testified he did not kill his dog, also in the home, something prosecutors said showed he was in a clear mindset in making that decision.
Lastly, prosecutors told the jury they believe Emery killed Moeckel because she was on the phone with 911, the children because they were eye-witnesses and Kate Kasten because he was angry following the fight.
“This is about him not wanting to take responsibility,” said Assistant Prosecutor Phil Groenweghe.
Emery’s attorneys encouraged the jury to look at the circumstances of the case, contending Emery was not in control of his actions the night of the killings and was fearful of the abandonment that would come along with losing Kasten and her kids.
The penalty phase of the trial began Saturday. Prosecutors encouraged the jury to sentence Emery to death, while his attorneys will push for life in prison with no parole. Tuesday afternoon, the jury sentenced Emery to death on all four counts.
Following the sentencing, St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said, “It was a clear disregard for human life. It was vile. The crime scene, it spoke for itself. To commit these murders within a matter of moments but we can clearly establish that there was plenty of time for cool reflection between each pull of that trigger. For me, those are the things that stood out to us and I think ultimately to the jury as well.”
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