ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – A St. Charles man has been sentenced to death for the 2018 murders of his girlfriend and her family.
A jury that consisted of two men and 10 women in their mid-20s to mid-60s found Richard Darren Emery guilty on four counts of first-degree murder on Friday, Sept. 30. The defense did not dispute the fact that Emery killed his girlfriend, Kate Kasten, her two children from a previous relationship, 10-year-old Jonathan and 8-year-old Zoe, and Kate’s mother Jane Moeckel.
Prosecutors sought the death penalty, showing traumatic police body camera footage to the jury of the aftermath.
Emery’s public defense attorneys presented a diminished capacity case to the jury, claiming he’d previously been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and was not in control of himself at the time of the murders. They had pushed for conviction on second-degree murder in the hope of sparing Emery’s life. Emery’s family, friends, and coworkers testified to try and convince the jury to change their mind about giving him the death sentence.
The jury deliberated for a little over two hours on Tuesday, Oct. 4. The jury convicted Emery in a unanimous decision of depravity of mind, vile, callousness, and disregard for the sanctity of all life.
As Judge Michael James Fagras read each sentence aloud to the court—death on each count—Emery hung his head after learning his fate. Emery hugged his attorneys and sobbed for a few minutes after the jurors left the court.
The St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar said the jury made the right decision.
“To my left are some of the gentlemen whose body cameras captured the footage at the crime scene in the initial moments,” Lohmar said. “It was appalling for me to have to watch it the first time. It was appalling for our team to watch it dozens of times. It was even worse for these guys to have to live through it.”
That body camera footage is most likely what helped convince the jury to sentence Emery to death on all four counts of first-degree murder.
The courtroom was packed with family and friends on both sides, all filled with sorrow, shoulders shaking, and quiet sobbing.
The defense is expected to file an appeal.
At the start of the trial on Sept. 20, prosecutors said Emery wiped out three generations of one family just before midnight on Dec. 28, 2018.
Prosecutors described Emery’s actions that night as “deliberate, intentional and purposeful.”
All four victims were shot in the face or head at close range, the prosecutor said. The murder weapon, a 9mm pistol, was so close to the victims that their skin had gunpowder burns.
Attorneys for the prosecution and defense agreed that Emery had gone out drinking and played poker earlier that evening. Emery returned home and got into an argument with Kate. At some point, Emery retrieved a handgun, and he and Kate struggled for the weapon.
Emery fired nine shots in all. Kate was the first person shot, but was the last to die. She died hours later at a local hospital.
Moeckel, Kate’s mother, barricaded herself and two grandchildren in another room in the house. After shooting Kate, Emery broke down the door to that room and shot Moeckel while she was on the phone with 911 dispatchers. Before being shot and killed, Moeckel provided dispatchers with the home address and said her daughter had been murdered. She never got a chance to identify the shooter.
The two children, Jonathan and Zoe, were the final victims to be shot.
After the shooting, Emery left the home with the pistol and an AR-15 rifle, including 500 rounds of ammunition, and a knife.
Emery drove away from the home as police arrived at the scene. That officer radioed colleagues to stop Emery’s truck.
Emery was pulled over and exchanged gunfire with police. He fired seven shots and fled. Emery suffered two gunshot wounds during the shootout. He did not take the AR-15 with him.
Prosecutors said Emery eventually came across a woman who was leaving a Christmas party. Emery, who still had his knife, carjacked the woman and attacked her. He stabbed the woman seven times, five in her chest, but ran off when the car alarm went off. The woman survived.
Emery was captured the morning after the shootings at a St. Charles QuikTrip, where police found him in a bathroom, covered in blood
After his arrest, Emery asked if the police he shot at were okay. He also asked if the woman he stabbed was okay. At no point did he ask about Kate Kasten and her family, prosecutors said.
On the final day of testimony, Emery took the stand to say he was not in control of his actions but acknowledged he had killed Kate and her family, and accepted responsibility for their deaths.
The start of the trial was delayed several months after Emery’s public defender died in January 2022. Public defenders from Jefferson City represented Emery during the trial.