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Katherine Emel is escorted out of a Montgomery County courtroom by sheriff's deputies on June 21, 2024, after pleading guilty to third-degree murder. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

NORRISTOWN – The ex-girlfriend of a man shot to death in Norristown during an alleged robbery by four other people admitted to playing a role in the fatal incident. Specifically, she told one of the robbers that the victim had recently won $5,000 gambling and provided information about his whereabouts the night of his murder.

Katherine “Kay” Lynn Emel, 31, of the Richardson Street block of Plymouth Township, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County court on Friday to third-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery in connection with the fatal shooting of her ex-boyfriend, William Carter, on Jan. 20, 2024, in the West Wood Street block of Norristown.

Essentially, Emel admitted that she told one of the robbers about Carter's “daily schedule” and the location where Carter would be on the evening of Jan. 20. Emel admitted Friday that she was upset because Carter, from whom she had recently separated, stopped paying part of her rent in November 2023, even though he continued to live with her.

Third-degree murder is a killing committed with malice or cruelty, hardness of heart or recklessness and carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.

By confessing, Emel was able to avoid a conviction for second-degree murder, which carries a life sentence in prison. Second-degree murder is a killing that occurs as part of another crime, such as robbery.

The open guilty plea means that Emel has no agreement with the prosecution regarding her possible sentence.

The sole decision on Emel’s sentence rests with Judge William R. Carpenter.

Katherine Emel is escorted by a deputy sheriff from a Montgomery County courtroom to await sentencing on murder and robbery charges on June 21, 2024. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
Katherine Emel is escorted by a deputy sheriff from a Montgomery County courtroom to await sentencing on murder and robbery charges on June 21, 2024. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. / MediaNews Group)

Under questioning by defense attorney John Francis McCaul, Emel admitted that she had agreed to testify truthfully at the September 3 trial of the three men accused in the fatal robbery.

In addition, Assistant District Attorney Meghan Bernadette Carney Emel advised in court that if she did not cooperate and testify truthfully, prosecutors could try her on the original charge of premeditated murder.

Emel and four other people were charged with manslaughter due to their complicity.

“She was basically one of the people who planned this robbery,” Carney claimed.

“Under liability for complicity and conspiracy, she set the robbery and subsequent murder in motion, even though she was not present at it. She planned and consented to the robbery and provided information to assist in the robbery. During the robbery, William was shot, so even if she did not pull the trigger, she is liable as an accomplice and co-conspirator,” Carney added.

A deputy sheriff escorts Katherine Emel into a Montgomery County courtroom for her guilty plea hearing on June 21, 2024. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
A deputy sheriff escorts Katherine Emel into a Montgomery County courtroom for her guilty plea hearing on June 21, 2024. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. / MediaNews Group)

Four other people are still awaiting trial in connection with the robbery and fatal shooting.

Damon Brantley Jr., 18, the suspected shooter from the 1000 block of West Beech Street in Norristown, is charged with first-degree and contributory murder, robbery, conspiracy and several weapons offenses. Brantley was 17 at the time of the incident but turned 18 a few days later.

Daquan Tyrone Allen, 29, the suspected getaway driver of 500th Street in Norristown, and Jerry Lamar Butler, 29, of 500th Street at East Clarkson Avenue in Philadelphia, who is accused of being involved in Carter's robbery, are charged with second-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit murder.

Allen, Butler and Brantley, who face a joint jury trial on September 3, were extradited from Endicott, New York, to Montgomery County, where they were arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service several days after the alleged incident.

Wanted photos of 3 men
Three men are charged with the robbery and murder of a man in Norristown on Jan. 20, 2024. They are, from left: Daquan Allen, 29, and Damon Brantley Jr., 18, both of Norristown, and Jerry Butler, 29, of Philadelphia. (Photo courtesy of Norristown Police Department)

A fourth man, Justin Lyaire Davis, 17, of the 300 block of East Brown Street in Norristown, previously faced charges of murder, robbery and conspiracy. Davis, who was 16 at the time of the incident but has been charged as an adult because of the violent nature of the crime, is seeking to have his case transferred to juvenile court.

Davis is not accused of firing the shot that killed Carter, but is accused of participating, along with Brantley and Butler, in the robbery that ended with Carter's fatal shooting.

The investigation began at approximately 7:53 p.m. on Jan. 20 when Norristown police responded to a report of shots fired at West Wood Street and Powell Street. Arriving officers found Carter, 35, dead on the sidewalk on the west side of West Wood Street, according to the criminal complaint filed by Norristown District Detective John Wittenberger and Norristown Detective Stephen Sowell.

Carter suffered a gunshot wound to the head, and authorities determined the fatal shooting occurred at 7:49 p.m. Investigators concluded Carter was carrying only a set of keys, no money, and no cell phone.

The investigation revealed that Carter, who was unarmed, had left a nearby residence to steal money from a white Buick LeSabre.

Detectives said they obtained video surveillance footage showing Carter getting out of the Buick and as he was crossing the street, three men – Brantley, Butler and Davis – getting out of a gray Toyota RAV-4, ambushing and robbing Carter.

According to court documents, Allen was waiting in the driver's seat of the Toyota.

After the three suspects robbed Carter, one of the attackers, Brantley, pointed a firearm at Carter and fired three shots from about three feet away, one of which struck Carter in the head, the criminal complaint states.

“The three shots were fired so quickly that investigators believed the weapon was equipped with an illegal 'switch' that enabled the weapon to operate automatically,” Wittenberger and Sowell claimed in court documents. “In addition, this weapon is obviously equipped with an extended magazine.”

At the crime scene, investigators found three 9 mm cartridge cases.

After Brantley, Butler and Davis got into the RAV-4, Allen, the suspected driver, fled the area and headed west on West Wood Street.

Using surveillance footage, detectives took photos of the suspects. These were made available to the media and helped identify and arrest the suspects.

Investigators also obtained a photograph of Brantley at a basketball game at Norristown High School on Jan. 20 between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. At the game, Brantley wore clothing that prosecutors said matched the clothing the shooter wore later that evening when Carter was fatally shot.

Katherine Lynn Emel, 31, is escorted by a deputy sheriff to her arraignment on April 8, 2024, in Montgomery County District Court. She faces robbery and murder charges. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
Katherine Lynn Emel, 31, is escorted by a deputy sheriff to her arraignment on April 8, 2024, in Montgomery County District Court. She faces robbery and murder charges. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. / MediaNews Group)

On January 21, authorities discovered that the RAV-4 getaway vehicle had been set on fire with an accelerant and destroyed. Authorities claimed Brantley was responsible for the arson. Photos of Brantley taken shortly after his arrest showed burns on his face and ears, as well as singed eyebrows.

Investigators later determined that the Buick Carter was driving the night of his murder belonged to Emel, who had placed a GPS tracking device in the trunk of the car, according to the affidavit.

Through analysis of cell phone records, witness interviews and other investigative techniques, investigators found that Emel had communicated with Allen several times before Carter's robbery and murder, telling Allen that Carter had recently won $5,000 gambling, court documents show.

After the alleged murder, video surveillance from a store on North Broad Street in Philadelphia showed Emel and Allen meeting between 9:31 and 9:48 p.m., during which Allen gave Emel $700, according to the affidavit.

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