After five days of testimony, the prosecution Saturday afternoon rested its case in the prosecution of Kylr Yust who is accused of killing two Cass County women nearly a decade apart.
In addition to law enforcement and crime scene investigators’ testimony, the jury also heard witnesses tell stories of Yust’s temper including cases of violence, but possibly the most damning was a wiretap recording where Yust confessed to killing Kara Kopetsky, the first of the two victims he is accused of murdering.
In 2011, Kaitlyn Ferris, a former girlfriend, wore a wire while meeting Yust where he allegedly confessed to the crime. He talked about how he will never be loved and wants to kill himself and how he “killed someone else.”
In the recording he said, “No one knows this, not even my own father, not my brother, anyone. You are the only person.”
The FBI brought Ferris in from North Carolina for the meeting. Ferris had been dating Yust previously and he had told her about Kopetsky. She told a mutual friend, who in turn, contacted law enforcement.
Another former girlfriend, Candice St. Clair, told how Yust abused her during their relationship in 2011. When she was trying to leave she said he tried to “crush my trachea.” Yust was found guilty of domestic violence in the case and was sentenced to two years probation.
Jurors also heard a recorded telephone conversation between Yust and his mother, Johneen Robinson. In it she said, “So that’s why you go out and kill a girl. That’s part of it. Give me a break,” Robinson said. To which Yust replied, “That’s part of it.”
Crystal Taylor, the ex-wife of Yust’s half-brother, Jessep Carter, talked about a day she and Carter spent with Yust, which was the day after Runions went missing in 2016 and said she feared for her life as Yust was behaving nervously and erratically.
She said they traveled to Kansas City so she and Carter could meet up with Yust at his grandfather’s. After leaving Yust’s grandfather’s house Carter, Taylor and Yust went to visit Carter’s uncle’s house, Taylor testified. At the house, Taylor said Yust told her he had broken up with Runions the week before.
“She had too many men after her. What do I have to offer?” Yust reportedly said. Taylor then said Yust and Carter left together and when they returned, her husband was different.
“He looked shocked, scared, like just mind-blown,” she said.
Taylor testified that in the year after September 2016 Carter’s behavior became abusive. She eventually left him to go to a shelter. She later learned Carter was arrested for setting his uncle Paul Andrulewicz’s house on fire. In 2018, Carter committed suicide in the Jackson County Jail.
The jury, which has been brought in from St. Charles County, also heard from the mothers of both victims as well as Keith Todd, the mushroom hunter who found the bodies in 2017.
The defense opened on Monday, but ran into difficulty when one witness was not present and others were challenged by the prosecution. The defense is attempting to offer alternative suspects including Carter, whom they allege left a coded note in a Bible prior to his suicide, confessing he killed 11 women. The jury has not heard any of the information about the note or the Bible.
A key witness on Tuesday was James Tranum, a former Washington D.C. police officer, who does case and investigation reviews. Tranum was critical of many elements of the investigation, citing instances where he said Yust’s alleged alibis were ignored, investigators bowing to media pressure made false assumptions and there were cases of mishandling evidence.
“If law enforcement gets emotionally involved it damages the case,” Tranum said.
The defense was expected to call 16 witnesses Tuesday. At press time it was expected closing statements could be offered yesterday and the jury could begin deliberations.
Yust, 33, Belton, is accused of murdering Kopetsky in 2007 and Runions in 2016 Kopetsky was 17 when she was last seen alive at 9:19 a.m. May 4, 2007, on Belton High School surveillance footage.
Runions was last seen alive Sept 8, 2016, when she and Yust were seen leaving a party in Grandview.
Both bodies were missing until April 2017 when they were discovered by Todd in the area of 233 Street and Y Highway in Cass County.
Yust was arrested for the murder of both women in October of that year.