HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — An accused killer charged in the deaths of two metro women faced a judge for the first time on Tuesday. Families of the two victims filled the Cass County court room.
It was a day the families of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions said they’ve waited a long time to see.
The second floor court room was standing room only, but there were no friends or family there to support Kylr Yust.
The victim’s families and friends, however, packed the court room. Jessica Runions’ dad, John Runions, had this to say after the hearing:
“Just, I am just ready to get this thing over with.”
Yust finally walking in to a court room charged with the murders of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions — a moment these families have been waiting for since their daughters disappeared: Kopetsky in 2007, and Runions in 2016.
Some family members were crying as they sat in court facing the man they believe killed their children.
Yust answered simple questions from the judge, indicating he understands what he is being charged with and did not flinch when the judge told him the first degree murder charges carry either life in prison without parole, or death.
After the hearing was over, both Kopetsky’s parents and Runions’ mom, Jamie, left without comment, but Thursday after Yust was charged, they made a clear statement about what is to come.
“Focus is just justice for our girls,” Jamie said.
District defender Jeff Martin represented Yust in this hearing, but notified the judge he was giving up the case.
The Public Defender’s Office also represents Yust’s brother Jessup Carter on charges out of Henry County. Since Carter is listed as a witness in the Yust case, it is a conflict for the Public Defender’s Office to also represent Yust.
Martin said due to the nature of this case and the probability that it will become a death penalty case, his office has contacted the Capital Defender’s Office in St. Louis to provide an attorney to represent Yust in the future.
Prosecutor Ben Butler would not say whether or not he would be pursuing the death penalty against Yust, but he has some time to make that decision and notify the court.