Kylr Yust trial: Former local prosecutor calls Yust’s testimony a ‘Hail Mary’

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HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — A jury spent more than 3 hours deliberating Kylr Yust’s fate Wednesday night and will resume Thursday. The deliberations followed explosive testimony as Yust took the stand in his own defense for the murders of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions.

The defense has tried to show Yust’s now deceased half-brother Jessep Carter could have killed the women, and pointed to the state’s lack of physical evidence.

Meanwhile, he prosecution has shared audio and provided testimony of Yust confessing to being a killer to multiple people. Lead prosecutor Julie Tolle called Yust a monster during closing arguments. 

“He’s the man who murders his 17-year-old girlfriend because he’s not going to let anyone else have her. He’s the man who murders his next girlfriend 10 years later because he can because he got away with it already,” she said.

Former Jackson County Prosecutor Phil LeVota called the decision to put Yust on the stand Wednesday a “Hail Mary.”

“The prosecution painted him as a monster, a double homicide killing machine, and they wanted to humanize him,” LeVota said.

Although he said it came as a surprise and was a risk, LeVota said it may have been the defense’s best shot at trying to convince at least one juror to create a hung jury. He said it also was the defense’s best chance to explain Yust’s various confessions over the years, which he now says were all false.

“He could build his story around everything that came in, and he could admit to a lie when it didn’t hurt him and say other people were lying when it did,” LeVota said.

But it allowed prosecutors to question Yust on why he never told anyone about his dead half-brother’s involvement until now and to grill him on several tumultuous and abusive relationships. 

“You put your hands around Kara’s neck and you strangled her and you took her last breath. You watched her eyes roll back in her head, and you stared at her as that happened,” Tolle accused Yust. 

“No,” he responded. 

LeVota said jurors likely wanted to see more emotion from Yust, saying he loved and didn’t kill the women, but that really only came when he tried to deny that he urinated himself when he and Carter got pulled over. 

“You can’t make things up,” Yust told Tolle.

“I’m not the one making things up. That’s the irony of this,” she replied. 

“Can you show me the page where he says that in any of his interviews. Just like you made up me peeing my pants, just to get a conviction,” Yust said.

The jury will resume deliberation Thursday morning. FOX4 will be at the Cass County courthouse to bring you live updates online as we learn more about their decision.

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