HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — Kylr Yust, a Kansas City man, has been recommended a sentence of life and 15 years for the deaths of Jessica Runions and Kara Kopetsky in Missouri.
The jury recommended these punishments for the following crimes: 15 years, a max punishment, for voluntary manslaughter in the killing of Kopetsky; life (30 years), a max punishment, for second-degree murder in the killing of Runions.
The formal sentencing will take place on June 7. That is likely when the judge will decide whether the punishments will be served at the same time or one after the other.
Yust was found guilty after a nine-day trial four years after he was charged for murdering the two women. The jury took nearly a full day to agree on the convictions, which are lesser than the original first-degree murder charges.
For Kopetsky’s mother Rhonda Beckford, the conviction was too weak. After looking for her daughter for 10 years and waiting another four for a conviction, she said the charges were not enough.
Kopetsky vanished after leaving Belton High School during the day on May 4, 2007. Yust was suspected in her disappearance after their rocky relationship, but he was never charged.
Nine years later in 2016, Runions is reported missing. Her car was soon found torched, and Yust was arrested. The two also had a relationship, and Yust was found with burn marks consistent with the car fire.
Both of the women’s bodies were found in the woods of rural Cass County the next spring in 2017, when a mushroom hunter happened across their remains. Yust was soon arrested and charged with murder.
Ultimately, the jury found that there was enough evidence to suggest Yust killed Kopetsky “under the influence of sudden passion arising from adequate cause,” constituting the manslaughter charge, according to Missouri law. They found there was more evidence to suggest he later killed Runions outside of the “heat of passion,” but without premeditation, resulting in second-degree murder.