HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — Candice St. Clair sat in a Cass County courtroom Wednesday face to face with her ex-boyfriend Kylr Yust nearly a decade later.
St. Clair, then Matthews, was 17 when she met Yust and they began dating. She said she moved in with Yust in 2011. It was after her brother died and her parents caught her smoking weed in the basement. She said they kicked her out.
On Wednesday, during the third day of Yust’s double murder trial, she described her relationship to the jury as an emotional rollercoaster with extreme highs and lows. Violent, unhealthy, and dishonest.
In July 2011, she was living in Yust’s apartment in KCMO off of Locust Street.
She said Yust attacked her when she was packing her bags to leave him. He came back to their apartment drunk and allegedly attacked her. He got on top of her to put his hands on her neck to “crush my trachea.”
“How were his hands positioned around your neck?” prosecutor Julie Tolle asked.
“With his thumbs overlapping one another and his fingers wrapped around the sides of my neck,” St. Clair responded, holding her hands out in front of her as if to mimic Yust’s hands.
On the stand, Matthews was composed but showed the jury the anger she felt about the incident. It was clear to see she was very emotional about the incident.
“He told me I was not allowed to leave,” Matthews said. He wrapped his hands around her throat, and said, “I have killed other ex-girlfriends in jealousy. I will kill you before you can let another scream out of your throat.” St. Clair describes Yust as licking his lips and grinding his teeth at her.
She said he would stop strangling her and then punch her in the legs, and then start strangling her again. St. Clair told the jury Yust drew a pentagram on her forehead and began speaking in tongues. She said to get him to stop this behavior she pretended to be possessed by a demon, as though she was going through an exorcism.
Court documents filed at the time expand on the incident. St. Clair told investigators Yust told her his family had a ranch where there were “pigs who would eat anything including bones.” He allegedly told her he “had seen arms ripped off people while they were still alive, and had seen people dropped into barrels of acid to destroy evidence.”
Yust told her “no one would ever find her, and he had unlimited resources.”
At some point St. Clair said she actually lost consciousness. She eventually woke up and said Yust was spooning her and whispering “I love you” in her ear. He told he if she was good it would never happen again.
St. Clair said because of this time in her life, she lives with severe post traumatic stress disorder.
She said she didn’t report it immediately because she was scared about repercussions she would face from Yust. She posted about it on Facebook later, and she was contacted by police when someone shared it with them.
St. Clair split from Yust on July 25, 2011. She told the jury she found out Yust was cheating on her, and that’s when she decided to leave. She called her mother and step-father who came to pick her up.
According to court documents, the next day St. Clair showed her mother bruises she said Yust gave her when he choked her.
At the time of the alleged attack, St. Clair said she didn’t realize she was pregnant.
On Aug. 19, 2011, she was interviewed by police. She told them about the incident and why she posted on Facebook instead of coming to police directly. The officer observed older bruises on St. Clair that were consistent with what she said.
St. Clair told the jury while she was being questioned by police she began miscarrying their child. She had to be taken to the hospital directly from the police station. Rose Brooks helped her get a restraining order against Yust.
On Sept. 6, 2011, Yust pleaded guilty to one count of domestic violence in Jackson County and was given two years probation.
By December, St. Clair was back with Yust, but ultimately the relationship did not last.
It was not discussed in court, but St. Clair also previously made statements at the same time about two earlier incidents where he allegedly killed three of her cats.
According to court documents, sometime around mid-July of that year St. Clair said she came home from work to find Yust in the bathroom with one of their kittens. She reported to police she saw Yust slamming it on the floor over and over. St. Clair said she tried to stop Yust but he locked her out of the bathroom, but she could hear him continue to hurt the animal.
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St. Clair said Yust left the apartment with the kitten and disposed of it. However, this wasn’t the first time he allegedly killed one of their animals. She said he had two other kittens that Yust allegedly placed into a sack alive. Yust took them behind the apartment complex and threw the sack into a creek. St. Clair quoted Yust as saying the kittens “didn’t deserve to live.”
Yust was charged with animal abuse, but ultimately the charges were dropped.
Prior to Yust’s trial, his lawyers held a hearing about the claims he killed the three kittens. Ultimately, Judge William Collins said he wouldn’t admit the evidence, and the jury would not hear about his alleged animal abuse.
During the time they were together, St. Clair said they would talk about Kopetsky from time to time. She told the jury Yust expressed annoyance with the search for Kopetsky and did not like to see lawn signs around Belton.
“He told me that at a point in time he collected as many as he could, and he put them in her parent’s yard,” St. Clair said.
Perhaps the most stunning moment of St. Clair’s testimony was an unexpected realization. St. Clair talked about things they would do together. She said sometimes they would drive out in the country near Y Highway.
During her testimony, there was a moment she realizes the area where she and Yust would spend time was near where Kopetsky lay waiting to be found five years later.
FOX4’s Sherae Honeycutt has been in court and liveblogging constant updates. See more from all of the day’s proceedings in her blog.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence there is help for you and a way out. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has people available to talk. You can call them at 800.799.SAFE (7233) or visit their website.