The 31-year-old man found dead in a wheelchair near Union Square last week owed $14,000 to a family of alleged marijuana dealers who are accused of beating and strangling him in a hotel room, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Christopher Hardee, 47, Nicole Hardee, 40, and their son Kayleb Hardee, 19, appeared in court for the first time Tuesday on murder, robbery and other charges.
The father and son are accused of killing Andrew Emmett, of Colorado, in a room at the Dakota Hotel at 606 Post St. while the mother waited in the lobby. Emmett was left dead in a wheelchair outside the hotel.
Prosecutor Michael Swart filed court documents suggesting that the killing was drug-related. Police found paperwork in a safe at the Hardee residence showing that Emmett owed the family thousands of dollars.
Kayleb Hardee also allegedly checked into a Motel 6 in Petaluma after the killing where police found 18 pounds of marijuana, a shotgun and a handgun.
Emmett was killed soon after arriving at the Dakota Hotel last Wednesday. The Hardees drove from Petaluma to meet Emmett an hour after he checked in with a large duffel bag and backpack, according to court filings.
The father and son allegedly went up to meet Emmett in room 504 while Nicole Hardee waited in the lobby until she received a phone call. Swart said Nicole Hardee then left the hotel and came back with a wheelchair.
Kayleb Hardee allegedly took the wheelchair up to the room. Prosecutors claim Christopher Hardee then used it to wheel Emmett out of the lobby while his son carried the backpack and large duffel bag out of the hotel.
Christopher Hardee allegedly left Emmett on the sidewalk, just a few yards from the hotel, before driving away with his family. Passersby later found Emmett and called 911. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The following day, police conducted surveillance of the Hardee residence at 184 Marshall Ave., just outside the Petaluma city limits. Police watched the Hardee son load items into the trunk of a Dodge Charger before driving away.
Police stopped Kayleb Hardee and allegedly found bloody clothing and a backpack belonging to Emmett in the trunk of the car.
In police interrogations after their arrests, Christopher Hardee did not speak with officers but his wife and son did.
Swart said Nicole Hardee admitted to bringing the wheelchair to the hotel but said “they came to San Francisco to have lunch with the victim and that she was going shopping at Macy’s.”
Swart said Kayleb Hardee “stated he acted alone in killing Drew and that neither of his parents had any knowledge or involvement in the murder.”
The trio made an initial appearance in court on Tuesday but did not enter a plea.
Randolph Darr, a private attorney with Pier 5 Law, declined to comment on behalf of Nicole Hardee. Michael Gaines, an appointed attorney for Kayleb Hardee, also declined to comment. Manohar Raju, an attorney with the Public Defender’s Office, is representing Christopher Hardee.
Inside the courtroom, the father walked in first in glasses and short cropped hair. He nodded at two women who looked on from the gallery. The younger woman began to cry.
When Kayleb Hardee walked in, he kissed his father on the forehead and blew another smack to the women in the audience. His hair was shaggy and his arm was wrapped in a cast.
Nicole Hardee entered the courtroom last. She buried her head in an attorney’s shoulder when she saw her family.
Each is charged with murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree residential burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime. The trio will be held without bail until the judge decides whether to set bail on Friday.
Their arraignment is also scheduled for Friday.
Ryan Emmett, the brother of the victim, spoke with the San Francisco Examiner on Monday. Emmett said he and his brother lived together in Breckenridge, Colorado. He last saw his brother about two weeks ago.
Ryan Emmett said his brother had known the Hardees for four or five years and he himself had once spent Christmas with them. On the night of the killing Ryan Emmett said Christopher Hardee called him.
“He called me at midnight on the night that he was killed and asked me, ‘Hey, have you heard from your brother?’” Ryan Emmett said. “‘I can’t find him, I am looking for him, I saw he was in this hotel’ or whatever.”
According to his brother, Andrew Emmett would visit San Francisco often. He went to live music shows and would sell gems.
Ryan Emmett said his brother had struggled with substance abuse in the past, but had recently been clean.
“He had like a real bad heroin problem and he had gone to get help last year,” Ryan Emmett said. “When he was staying here at my house he was completely clean, so I don’t think this had anything to do with that.”
Andrew Emmett was the sixth homicide victim in San Francisco this year.
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