HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — The defense took over Monday in the Cass County trial for Kylr Yust, accused of murdering two young women nearly a decade apart.
Defense attorneys got off to a bit of a sputtering start out of the gate when some key witnesses failed to report to court or they couldn’t get them scheduled for Monday.
Many of the witnesses put in front of the jury were denied. It left both sides going back and forth on what should and should not be heard.
Judge William Collins also took a moment to talk with Yust himself at the bench.
“You are presumed to be innocent and you have that presumption,” Collins told him. “I know Ms. Turlington and Ms. Hastings talked about it at jury selection. You have also a right not to testify, and you have a right for the jury to be instructed not to have an adverse inference if you fail to testify at trial.”
The defense tried time and time again to put witnesses on the stand, and the state objected to them all, saying witnesses that haven’t already been cleared are irrelevant and much of their stories are “mushy.”
One of those stories is testimony tied to Yust’s half brother, Jessep Carter. The defense wanted to share evidence about a coded letter found in Carter’s jail cell after he took his own life. They plan to try and put another witness on the stand Tuesday who attempted to crack the code. Collins questioned lead defense attorney Sharon Turlington.
“Ms. Turlington, I’m trying to figure out what the relevance is with regard to the things that were found in Mr. Carter’s jail cell,” Collins told her.
Turlington said the state brought up Carter as well, and they should be allowed to present evidence relating to him.
“It is our job, and we must try to rebut the state’s evidence. So if you don’t want to get into him committing suicide, then don’t get into him committing suicide and then say it’s distraught about his wife leaving him,” Turlington said.
Lead prosecutor Julie Tolle told the judge the focus of the trial needs to be Kylr Yust and not his half-brother.
“Judge, this is the epitome of hearsay. They want to put Yust’s former attorney on the stand to testify to out-of-court statements to prove the matter asserted. Jessep Carter is not not trial; Kylr Yust is on trial,” Tolle said.
The defense also presented Billy Bays in court, but he was not seen by the jury — yet. They want to present him as an alternate suspect as someone who could have killed Kopetsky.
Bays allegedly told a man they plan to call Tuesday that he killed Kopetsky after a drug-fueled party. Bays denied the entire story in front of the judge and even to knowing who Kopetsky is.
In the video below, metro attorneys Melinda Clark-Sann and Phil LeVota join FOX4’s John Holt to analyze some of the latest developments in the Yust trial.