ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The penalty phase begins for Richard Emery, just one day after a jury convicted him of killing four people from the same family in St. Charles County.

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. All four were killed just days after Christmas in 2018.

Many witnesses testified, Saturday, and court lasted several hours without a decision on Emery’s sentence. Proceedings will continue Tuesday.

Jurors will have to consider whether or not Emery should be put to death. St. Charles prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against him. The defense is asking for life without the possibility of parole.

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Prior to Friday’s verdict, attorneys on both sides agreed that Emery committed the killings. 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.

“We respect your verdict. You now have Darren’s life in your hands,” said Emery’s defense attorney in court Saturday.

Earlier this week 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. Emery said he felt like he was in a video game as an argument with his girlfriend escalated, culminating with the murders.

The state called eight witnesses to the stand, including Kasten’s sister-in-law Natasha Naker. She’s the sister of Kasten’s late husband Corey, who had two children with Kasten before he died from cancer.

Baker never imagined the unthinkable loss that would happen next. She found out on her birthday.

“I was screaming. I fell to the ground,” said Baker. “I’ve never thought this would be something that would happen to me.”

Based on Emery’s recollection from earlier in the week, 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 went to the bedroom, Emery says Kasten started arguing that he had not acknowledged Jonathan’s Lego project enough.

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 Kasten 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 struggle which led to him grabbing her and pushing her down the stairs. As the situation escalated, Emery recalls he went to a safe deposit box and ended up with a gun in his hand. Kate, Jonthan, Zoey and Jane were all fatally shot after that.

The jury also heard from police officers who responded to this home in the Oxford Estates neighborhood in St. Charles. Officer Dean Alexander found the bodies of Kasten’s two children and her mother.

Alexander has worked in law enforcement for nearly 30 years and says this situation was, “the worst of the worst. … This will always haunt me for the rest of my life.”

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. 

Nearly four years later, some officers involved in the shootout that followed the killings still deal with PTSD.

“It sounded like a cannon going off right by my head,” said Jeremy Bratton, former St. Charles City police officer. “It was so loud and so impactful.”

Bratton had nearly two decades of law enforcement experience. He says doctors medically retired him.

“That was the last day I wore a police uniform,” he recalled.

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Kyle Schmidt, a former combat veteran, was just getting his career started as a police officer.

“Trauma following that has pushed me out of two careers,” said Schmidt. “This was in downtown sleepy St. Charles, not Iraq.

Jurors also heard from the woman stabbed seven times right after the murders as she was leaving a Christmas party, but the judge did not allow any victim testimony to be recorded.

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. 

When the penalty phase resumes next week, the defense plans to call several witnesses, including some of Emery’s relatives, friends and former co-workers.

Emery’s trial began Sept. 20. Prosecutors initially expected the trial to last about two and a half weeks.