Jury hears frantic 911 call, police body camera video in first day of Richard Emery trial
Emery is facing more than a dozen charges, including four counts of first-degree murder. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Nearly four years after four family members were killed in their St. Charles home, the man accused of the slayings is on trial.
Richard Emery, 50, is accused of killing his girlfriend, Kate Kasten, 39, her two children Zoe Kasten, 8, and Jonathan Kasten, 10, and Kasten’s mother, Jane Moeckel, 61.
According to prosecutors, on the evening of Dec. 28, 2018, Kasten asked Emery to stay home for a night in with the family. Instead, Emery went out to Throw Backs Bar and Grill, returning home around 11:30 p.m. While out, the two were texting each other, with Kasten suggesting sex when he returned home. However, prosecutors believe the two got into an argument instead, in which Kasten asked Emery to leave.
At some point, prosecutors said, Emery grabbed a gun from a gun safe stored in a nearby nightstand. A struggle over the gun ensued, in which investigators believe two shots were fired, striking a wall of the home. Shortly thereafter, they allege Emery shot Kasten twice, first in the shoulder and then in the head.
During the struggle, Assistant Prosecutor Phil Groenweghe said Kasten’s two children ran to a nearby bedroom where their grandmother was staying and locked the door. It’s then he said that Moeckel called 911.
In the call, played for the jury, Moeckel relays her address to dispatcher Robert Higgins.
“I had to ask for the address twice because I could hear something was going on and I didn’t catch the address right away, so I asked her to repeat it,” Higgins said. “There was a lot of screaming, I heard her say, ‘he has a gun’ and then moments later I heard pops and everything kind of went quiet.”
After the line goes quiet, Higgins can be heard on the call repeatedly calling out to Moeckel.
“It just sounded like gunshots and putting that together with her saying he had a gun, I knew something was wrong immediately.”
Shortly after Moeckel appears to have been shot while on the phone, another voice can be heard in the background. Moments later, a male voice says something before another pop is heard.
Moeckel was shot once in the face, as was Zoe. Jonathan, 10, was shot three times, in the face, shoulder and arm. The final shot traveled through his arm and into his chest, killing him.
Higgins said he disconnected from the call when police officers arrived at the scene to discover the four victims.
Officer Zach Fischer was completing reports in a nearby church parking lot when he heard a call for a possible shooting with a suddenly unresponsive 911 caller.
“I was the closest,” he said. “But everyone was headed that way.”
Upon arriving, Fischer said he parked his squad car down the street from the home, grabbed his police-issued rifle and began making his way down the street.
As he approached the home, he testified to seeing a pickup truck idling in a driveway.
“Whenever I got particularly close to the residence with the pickup truck parked in it, I saw a white male exit the house, turn around and lock the door and then walk to the pickup truck,” Officer Fischer said.
Fischer testified the man walked “casually” to the truck and after getting inside, “backed out like anyone normally would when they’re driving a car,” indicating there was nothing erratic about the truck, which began exiting the neighborhood.
Fischer told the jury he called in the license plate and a description of the car, leading to a traffic stop of Emery minutes later.
What police didn’t know at the time, prosecutors said, was the amount of ammunition Emery had on him after leaving the house. Prosecutors said Emery took an AR-15 style rifle and a duffle bag with eight cartridges and about 450 rounds of ammunition. The 9mm, which prosecutors said was used in the killings, was accompanied by nearly 500 rounds of additional ammunition.
Groenweghe said when officers approached Emery, he fired seven shots at officers. Two of those shots struck the patrol car’s grill, while four others struck the door the officers were taking cover behind. Officers returned fire, striking Emery twice.
After fleeing the traffic stop, Emery is accused of attacking a woman leaving a Christmas party, stabbing her seven times in an attempt to steal her car. When the car’s alarm began sounding, Emery fled.
After a brief manhunt, Emery was taken into custody at the QuikTrip on First Capital Drive. Groenweghe said he was found inside the bathroom after someone had called about a man covered in blood entering the store.
Back at the scene, officers discovered the four victims in the upstairs bedrooms. Kasten was clinging to life, unable to speak or tell officers who shot her. Several officers testified to tying a t-shirt around her head in an attempt to stop the massive blood loss. Her mother and two children were found deceased in a nearby bedroom.
“Kate was the first one shot and the last one to die,” said Groenweghe. “This is not the result of dissociation or someone hallucinating. He literally went from one room to another, one victim to another, in order to kill them all.”
Emery’s attorney, Stephen Reynolds, told the jury his client is guilty of murder, but it was not premeditated. Instead, he asked the jury to find Emery guilty of second-degree murder, which would remove the death penalty from the table.
Reynolds told the jury Emery suffers from mental health problems, including a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, which he argues made Emery unable to control or regulate his emotions and as a result, “overreacted” to his argument with Kasten.
The judge has ordered the jury sequestered for the duration of the trial. If the jury finds Emery guilty of first-degree murder, prosecutors will then ask jurors to sentence him to death.
Copyright 2022 KMOV. All rights reserved.