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ST. CHARLES, Mo. — During jury selection for Kylr Yust’s trial, a number of topics came up, from domestic violence, feelings about law enforcement, drug use, and even metal bands and tattoos.

Near the end of the first day of proceedings in the gymnasium of a more than 100-year-old church, defense attorney Sharon Turlington asked the group if anyone had knowledge of “Gematria code.” She described it as a secret code based in biblical times. None of the witnesses in the first group did, but if they had it could have swayed counsel on both sides whether to excuse or keep them.

When you think of Yust, your first impression may not be someone who uses an ancient form of communication. Turlington did not expand on why they wanted to know if anyone had knowledge of it, but did say some evidence may have to do with the code.

But what is Gematria code? According to MyJewishLearning.com, Gematria is “a numerological system by which Hebrew letters correspond to numbers.” The site says it was developed by men who practiced the Kabbalah and worked with Jewish mysticism. The code is influenced by Greek communication and was used to interpret books of the bible.

Hebrew letters are represented by a number. They use the example of aleph = 1, bet = 2, etc. In using the code, you can “calculate the numerical value of a word by adding together values of each letter in it. In the realm of biblical interpretation, commentators base an argument on numerological equivalence of words. If a word’s numerical value equals that of another word, a commentator might draw a connection between these two words and the verses in which they appear and use this to prove larger conceptual conclusions.”

Looking at the symbols, you may find them familiar from the sides of a dreidel.

The Yale University Library breaks down how to use Gematria by using this equation example:
“By examining the gematria of the Hebrew word for honor, כבד (kabed) we find that it has the value of 26 ([כ=20, ב=2, ד=4, [20+2+4=26).”

Perhaps the most popular use of Gematria in popular culture is “666,” which is considered the number of the beast in the Bible. Many use the number to describe the devil. According to Catherine A. Cory’s book “The Book of Revelation,” the number comes from the translation of Greek text into Hebrew using Gematria from the book of Revelation.

What does all of this mean for Yust’s trial which starts Monday, April 5? It’s unclear. The defense or prosecution may choose to present evidence detailing Gematria, or they may not. However, some piece of information within their evidence is connected to the code worthy enough to pose the question to jurors.

It took three days to choose the 12 jurors, plus four alternates. There are 13 women and three men.

Jurors were selected from St. Charles, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. They are scheduled to leave St. Charles at 8 a.m. Monday morning and will arrive in Harrisonville by noon.

Opening statements are scheduled to take place Monday afternoon.

FOX4 will have crews at the Cass County Justice Center to bring you daily updates through the three-week trial.