After following Yust trial closely, Jessica Runions’ friends focus on her memory

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HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — Friends of Jessica Runions are sharing memories of her after a jury convicted Kylr Yust in her murder last week. Runions disappeared in 2016, her remains found seven months later, in the same area where Kara Kopetsky’s were found.

A jury convicted Yust of second-degree murder and recommended he spend life in prison.

Alicia Bellisario and Alena McClary are glad the trial is over and the focus can be back on their kind, funny and caring friend they miss every day. Runions made their friendship complete.

“She’s missed a lot of moments,” Bellisario said. “She was always just so nice and genuine. You could talk to her about anything.”

“I just miss her exuberance, who she was as a person. Partnership. She was there to listen no matter what. She was a great friend,” McClary said.

Both women followed the trial closely. Bellisario came to the courthouse the day Yust himself took the stand.

“You hear things that you don’t want to hear. Your heart sinks into your stomach. It’s really hard,” McClary said.

Bellisario said she hopes the judge upholds the jury’s decision, and Yust spends the maximum amount of time behind bars.

“I wish he would have gotten more time, but I know it really couldn’t gone past that. There wasn’t enough evidence for Kara, and I wish she could have gotten more justice,” Bellisario said.

The women said no amount of justice will bring her back. Runions will never know their children, or have babies of her own.

“I just want people to know who Jessica was and how amazing she was and beautiful. Just a beautiful soul taken out of this world too soon,” Bellisario said.

“I love her and miss her. She will always be a part of our lives if she’s here or not,” McClary said.

While the process has been difficult for them, they said what both girls’ families have been through is much worse. They still keep in close contact with Runions family and support them as much as they can.

She was always there for her sisters, and it was extremely hard seeing them go through that and her mom — she was really really strong through the whole thing,” Bellisario said.

“They can have peace and heal and work through these things that have been hanging over them for so many years,” McClary said.

Yust will be back in court June 7 for his formal sentencing. Judge William Collins will make the final decision on his sentence and if the terms will run consecutively or concurrently. His life sentence for murder is capped at 30 years; the maximum for voluntary manslaughter is 15 years.

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