Jury Recommends Death For St. Louis Man Who Killed 4

"I put the gun to my head. I was so close to pulling the trigger," Richard "Darren" Emery testifies about when he was pulled over by police after the December 2018 killing of his girlfriend and her family in St. Charles Circuit court Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in St. Charles County, Mo. 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. A jury deliberated about two hours Friday, Sept. 30, before finding 50-year-old Emery guilty of four counts of first-degree murder. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
"I put the gun to my head. I was so close to pulling the trigger," Richard "Darren" Emery testifies about when he was pulled over by police after the December 2018 killing of his girlfriend and her family in St. Charles Circuit court Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in St. Charles County, Mo. 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. A jury deliberated about two hours Friday, Sept. 30, before finding 50-year-old Emery guilty of four counts of first-degree murder. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
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ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) — Jurors recommended the death penalty Tuesday for a St. Louis area man who killed his girlfriend, her two children and her mother.

Richard Darren Emery, of St. Charles, hung his head, embraced his lawyers and cried after Judge Michael Fagras read the verdict. The victims' friends and family shook hands and smiled. Fagras will formally sentence Emery on Nov. 3, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Emery was convicted Friday of four counts of first-degree murder in the December 2018 attack.

Prosecutors said he shot Kate Kasten, 39, after she told him to leave while the couple argued. He then kicked in a door to a bedroom where Kasten’s mother, Jane Moeckel, 61, had barricaded herself with her grandchildren, Zoe, 8, and Jonathan, 10, and shot each of them at close range, police said.

Emery’s attorneys argued he had a mental illness that caused him to go into a “dream-like state.”

“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 assistant prosecutor Phil Groenweghe said Emery killed Moeckel, Zoe and Jonathan to eliminate witnesses, then shot at police and carjacked a woman, stabbing her seven times, all in the name of self-preservation.

“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.”

Outside the courthouse, St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar was grateful.

“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.”