ST. CHARLES, Mo. – A jury has convicted a St. Charles County man of killing four people from the same family, including two children, just days after Christmas 2018.
Richard Darren Emery was found guilty on four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of 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.
Prior to Friday’s ruling, Emery testified in his own defense for several hours Thursday, punctuated by occasional sobbing fits. He claimed he didn’t know what was happening on the night of Dec. 28, 2018.
Based on Emery’s testimony, he left a St. Peters bar 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, Emery said, one in which recalled telling Kate something along the lines of “I can’t do anything right” or “no matter what I do, it’s not good enough.” He said Kate told him to “Get the [expletive] out of my house” and slapped him in the face.
According to Emery’s testimony, the two ended up in a struggle, which led to him grabbing her and punching her. As the situation escalated, Emery recalls he went to a gun safe and took out a pistol.
“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 heard the disturbance. Emery claims he remembers gunshots going off, but says 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,” Emery said.
Emery’s public defense attorneys are presented a diminished capacity case to the jury, claiming Emery had previously been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and was not in control of himself at the time of the murders.
After the murders of Kate Kasten and her family, investigators said Emery exchanged gunfire with police and tried to carjack a woman while attempting to get away. Investigators said Emery stabbed that woman seven times, including five times in the chest. She survived that attack.
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.
Following hours under cross-examination from prosecutors on Thursday, Emery’s defense attorney asked her sobbing client, ““Darren, did you deliberately kill your family?”
“No! I miss them so much!” he said.
“Darren…do you take full responsibility for what happened?”
“Yes. It was all my fault!” he said.
The trial began Sept. 20. Prosecutors initially expected the trial to last about two and a half weeks. A penalty phase in the trial is scheduled for Saturday afternoon.