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Jury recommends death sentence for St. Charles man convicted in quadruple homicide

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ST. CHARLES — Richard Darren Emery, convicted of murdering his girlfriend, her two children and her mother in 2018, was sentenced to death Tuesday.

After roughly two hours of deliberation, the jury unanimously recommended Emery should die. He was convicted Friday of four counts of first-degree murder, and the jury on Tuesday cited several aggravating factors that merited death, including the depraved, callous, inhumane and vile nature of the crimes.

Family members of Emery’s girlfriend, Kate Kasten, 39, Kasten’s mother, Jane Moeckel, 61, and children Zoe, 8, and Jonathan, 10, shook hands, smiled and cried after Judge Michael Fagras read the verdict.

Emery hung his head, embraced his lawyers and cried while his family and friends also shed tears.

“You don’t take any pleasure out of being here,” said St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar outside the courthouse after the verdict. “On the flip side, we are satisfied. We feel that justice has been served.”

Convicted murderer sentenced to death in killing of family

St. Charles Police Chief Ray Juengst joins County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar, right, and members of the prosecution team outside the St. Charles County Courthouse after a jury imposed death sentences on convicted killer Richard Darren Emery for the 2018 killing of Emery's girlfriend and her family on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. In December 2018, Emery shot 61-year-old Jane M. Moeckel, her two grandchildren Zoe Kasten, 8, and Jonathan Kasten, 10, and the children's mother, Kate Kasten, 39, at a home in the 100 block of Whetstone Drive. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

Death by execution has become increasingly rare in Missouri, as fewer than one person per year has been killed by the state since 2015.

Emery was convicted after a weekslong trial in which a bevy of witnesses, including Emery himself, took the stand.

Jurors were shown body camera footage of officers at the scene finding the bodies, as well as a 911 call from Moeckel in which Zoe could be heard in the background screeching “Why? Why?” as Emery shot the family dead.

Prosecutors also presented evidence from Emery’s shootout with two St. Charles police officers and an attempted carjacking where he stabbed a woman seven times, both of which happened after the killings. Emery was eventually arrested at a QuikTrip.

Emery’s attorneys argued throughout the trial he had a mental illness that caused him to go into a “dream-like state” when he shot Kasten, then the others.

Richard Emery, who was found guilty on 4 counts of first-degree murder, was sentenced to death on Tuesday, October 4, 2022.

But prosecutors prevailed with an argument that Emery knew exactly what he was doing that night — systematically killing three generations of a family in less than a minute, then trying to make a getaway.

Prosecutor Phil Groenweghe argued during the punishment phase, which began Saturday, that after Emery killed his girlfriend, he then killed the others to eliminate witnesses. He shot at police and carjacked a woman, stabbing her seven times, all in the name of self-preservation, Groenweghe said.

“All he cares about is his life — that’s where his treasure is found,” Groenweghe said. “Send him the message that in St. Charles County, we will not tolerate this in any way.”

Police officers and family members of Kasten testified about the destruction Emery left in his wake that night in the 100 block of Whetstone Drive.

Emery’s friends and family testified Saturday and Monday, talking about Emery’s life and how they were shocked to learn he’d killed the family he’d always wanted.

On Tuesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys made their final arguments.

Defense attorneys asked the jury to have mercy on a man who had never given anyone a reason to suspect he could brutally murder four people. They asked the jury to picture his family, including his son, Tyler Emery, sitting in a room and watching their loved one die of a lethal injection.

“There has been so much pain, so much grief and so much loss, and we are asking you now to choose mercy,” said Emery’s attorney Stephanie Zipfel. “We are asking you to choose life.”

But prosecutors said there should be no mercy for a man whom they described as a master manipulator who used his family and loved ones to save his own life.

Judge Fagras will formally sentence Emery on Nov. 3, prosecutors said. If he confirms the death sentence, an execution date will be set.

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Katie Kull covers public safety for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She previously wrote about local government for the Springfield News-Leader. In her spare time, you can find her cooking, riding horses or spending time outdoors.

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