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The St. Charles quadruple murder suspect's strategy to stay off death row

Richard "Darren" Emery is accused of killing four people on Dec. 28, 2018. Prosecutors say he planned the murders; his attorneys say it was a dissociative episode.

ST CHARLES, Mo. — When defense attorneys made their opening statements more than a week ago, they admitted their client "killed four people he loved," but they spent their second day of testimony outlining why the crimes do not meet the criteria for first-degree murder.

Emery is accused of killing his girlfriend, her two young children and her mother in 2018. He faces four counts of first-degree murder and various other charges for crimes allegedly committed in the hours-long manhunt following the shootings.

Psychologist Michael Hendricks spent more than five hours on the stand Wednesday, testifying that he had diagnosed Emery with borderline personality disorder and major depressive disorder, adding that Emery was likely in a dissociative state after his girlfriend told him to leave the house, triggered by a long-held fear of abandonment.

"He had invested heavily in this relationship emotionally and what was now happening was he was being told it was all over," Dr. Hendricks said. "Everything he had given up, he had given up for naught."

Hendricks listed experiences in which Emery had been left behind by friends, family, and coworkers. He explained that Emery felt he had made significant sacrifices, even giving up his beloved dog, in order to make the relationship work.

Emery's girlfriend Kate Kasen, 39, was found in her home with her two young children — 8-year-old Zoe Kasen and 10-year-old Jonathan Kasen — along with her mother Jane Moeckel, 61.

The prosecution argued there are millions of people with the same diagnosis as Emery who are not homicidal.

Defense attorneys also called Emery's ex-wife Karen Austin to the stand Wednesday, explaining that she had never known him to show violence.

"The police came to my house and told me what was going on. I didn't believe them. I had a hard time understanding. It just didn't make sense," she said.

Judge Michael Fargas sent jurors home early Wednesday, telling them he expected "testimony tomorrow will be lengthy."

5 On Your Side will continue to bring you the developments from the courtroom.

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