HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — Rhonda Beckford, the mother of Kara Kopetsky, has asked for the maximum sentence against Kylr Yust after the jury found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter, a lesser conviction than the original murder charge.
“I don’t really feel like justice was served where Kara’s concerned,” she said during impact statements on the day of Yust’s sentencing, April 16.
Beckford’s comments came during a time where families could make emotional pleas before sentencing. The mother of the teen, who disappeared in 2007 and turned up dead 10 years later, chose to read a prepared letter during this time that depicted Kara’s positive qualities.
“Kara was a special person, loving, carefree, loyal, fast to forgive, and that forgiveness cost her her life because she forgave time and time again,” Beckford said. “I don’t know that she knew that until it was too late for her.”
She said her mother, Kara’s grandmother, had also sought justice for her beloved granddaughter. However, she died just before the trial began.
“When my mom found out that her breast cancer was back and that she was terminal, she hoped she would live to see this day, but that was not meant to be,” Beckford said, her voice catching. “My mom died on March 3.”
She said she’s glad her mother is gone because she’s in heaven with Kara and is not here to see the result of the sentencing. Voluntary manslaughter is given when a person knowingly kills another “under the influence of sudden passion arising from adequate cause,” according to Missouri law. The moral burden is lesser, resulting in often lighter punishment.
“Kara would have made the world a better place, and the world is a colder and darker place without Kara in it. She was such a bright, shining light that was snuffed out way too early, way too soon,” Beckford said, wrapping up her letter. “I ask the jury to please give the maximum sentence.”
Yust was also found guilty of second-degree murder for the death of Jessica Runions.