HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — The fifth day of Kylr Yust’s double murder trial was full of forensic evidence that dissected the moments after Jessica Runions was last seen. However, the most interesting testimony of the day came from Yust’s brother’s widow, Crystal Taylor.
Taylor told the jury she only met Jessica Runions, who Yust is accused of killing, once but she made an impression.
“Did Jessica get to know your kids, too?” prosecuting attorney Ben Butler said.
“Yeah,” said Taylor, her eyes welling up with tears. “My oldest, she loved her.”
Taylor was married to Yust’s brother, Jessep Carter, before he took his own life in the Jackson County Detention Center in 2018. Taylor tried to clarify some murky details surrounding the days following Runions’ disappearance.
She said her husband got a message from Yust through their mother, Johneen Robinson. Taylor told the jury that Yust and Carter were never close as brothers, and the message was odd.
“He was saying he wanted his brother. He wanted to see his brother, have him call me,” she said.
Taylor said Yust wanted his brother to come to Raytown from his home in Benton County to see him right away. They picked him up from his grandfather’s house and went to Carter’s uncle’s property. While Carter talked with his uncle, she sat with Yust.
“I asked him how he and his girlfriend were because the last time I saw Kylr, we met Jessica,” Taylor said. “‘OK, I guess,’ he said. They had broken up but they still talked. I asked if it was a mutual thing, and he said, ‘Well kinda. She had too many other men after her,’ and then he said something like, ‘What do I have to offer?'”
Yust, Carter and Taylor made several stops that day, she said, but at one point she was left at a family home. Yust and Carter went somewhere, and she never knew where.
“It seemed like eternity,” Taylor said.
When her husband came back, she said Carter wasn’t the same.
“He looked very shocked, scared, like, just mind-blown,” Carter said.
Taylor said they drove Yust to a trailer in Warsaw, and when they left, she and Carter called the police. Taylor said in the months after the incident, her husband went downhill. He started using drugs and abusing her, she said. She had to move into a women’s shelter for five months.
On the news, she saw Carter set his uncle’s house on fire, and later he took his own life in jail. She went to pick up his belongings.
“I asked for a bible, and they wouldn’t give it to me. They told me it was the jail’s property,” Taylor said.
“There was a coded note that he left,” defense attorney Molly Hastings began asking her.
“Excuse me judge my I approach?” Butler asked.
The reason the state objected has to do with the defense’s plan to use Carter as a possible alternate suspect to Yust. In pre-trial hearings, we heard about a coded message Carter allegedly left in his cell. The defense claims, if admitted, they will call a code expert who will testify that the message says, “I killed 11 girls.”
The defense said they will also call witnesses who claim Carter would drug women at parties, sexually assault them, and possibly kill them. They have a woman they want to testify who claims she woke up in the middle of a field after partying with Carter.
The judge has not decided yet if he will allow the defense to present the alleged evidence to the jury. They are expected to have a hearing one day after court adjourns to decide on what they will do.