ST. CHARLES, Mo. – A man accused of killing four people from the same family, including two children, just days after Christmas 2018 is testifying in his own defense Thursday.

St. Charles prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Richard Darren Emery. 

Emery is charged with killing his girlfriend, 39-year-old Kate Kasten, her two children from a previous relationship, 10-year-old Jonathan and 8-year-old Zoe, and Kate’s mother, 61-year-old Jane Moeckel. 

The trial is taking place inside the courthouse in downtown St. Charles. Phil Groenweghe is the lead prosecutor, while Emery is being represented by public defenders. Attorneys on both sides agree that Emery committed the killings, but Emery’s state of mind is in dispute. 

Groenweghe calls Emery’s actions “deliberate, intentional, and purposeful.” 

However, Emery’s attorneys are presenting a diminished capacity defense – claiming Emery had previously been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and was not in control of himself at the time of the murders. Emery faces 15 charges, including four counts of first-degree murder. 

For nearly two hours Thursday, Emery recalled what he remembers from Dec. 28, 2018, the night he is accused of killing Kasten and her family.

Based on Emery’s testimony, he left Throw Backs Bar & Grill in St. Peters shortly after 11 p.m. to return to see Kate. A text message thread cited earlier in court hinted the two might have sex. When Emery arrived back at the house, he says he recalls Jonathan in the kitchen trying to show him a Lego set he completed, one he had just bought for Christmas. Emery recalls that moment, but went up to the shower promptly after he arrived back. Once he got out and in a bedroom, Emery says Kate started arguing that he had not acknowledged Jonathan’s Lego project enough.

“It seemed very out of the blue. She didn’t seem like the kind of person who would start an argument,” Emery testified.

An argument then ensued, one in which Emery recalls saying something to the lines of “I can’t do anything right” or “no matter what I do, it’s not good enough.” He testifies after that moment that Kate told him to “Get the [expletive] out of my house” and slapped him in the face.

According to Emery’s testimony, the two then ended up in a stuggle which led to him grabbing her and pushing her down the stairs. As the situation escalated, Emery recalls he has went to a safe despoit box and later ended up with a gun in his hand. He then testifies, “It went off. … You don’t understand what’s going on… How did it get over there, we were in the bathroom. We were struggling, it didn’t make any sense.”

Before midnight, a 911 call was made by Kate’s mother, who was also in the house and learned of the disturbance. Emery claims he remembers gunshots going off, but says testifies he did not deliberately shoot Kate, Jonathan, Zoe and Jane.

“This whole process, I don’t know what’s happening. I mean, I’m there, but I’m not there,” said Emery.

Authorities said after the murders, Emery exchanged gunfire with police and tried to carjack a woman while attempting to get away. Investigators shared that Emery stabbed that woman seven times, including five times in the chest, fortunately she survived. 

Emery was captured the morning after the shootings in a St. Charles QuikTrip bathroom, suffering from gunshot wounds. Authorities believe he was injured during the shootout with police. 

“I want to go to sleep, I wanted to be warm,” Emery testified, on events after the four deaths. “I wanted the nightmare to end. Somehow, I knew if I would go back to sleep, I wouldn’t wake up.”

Just before a brief recess, Emery was asked if the situation was Kate’s fault.

“It’s nobody’s fault,” said Emery. “It’s my fault, I’m a screw-up. I’m apparently sick. I don’t know. They didn’t deserve me. The best thing that happened to me and as usual, I’m a screw-up. I should’ve been the one to die, not them.”

The trial has been ongoing since September 20. Prosecutors have told us that they expect the trial to last about two and a half weeks, with court taking place on Saturdays.