Kylr Yust’s sentencing explained: How 2 charges could add up

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kylr Yust faces punishment of between 15 and 45 years in prison, but some are asking why he should not spend the rest of his life in a penitentiary.

The punishment for second degree murder in Missouri is between 10 and 30 years behind bars or a life sentence. But according to former Jackson County prosecutor Phil LeVota, a life sentence is capped at 30 years in prison by the state parole board.

In effect, a 30 year prison term and a life sentence are the same thing. The maximum punishment for Yust’s conviction for killing Jessica Runions is 30 years.

“You can’t get 12 people to agree where to go to lunch,” LeVota explained. “To find them all, to figure out where to come down on this crime, it doesn’t surprise me they wanted to compromise. They wanted to make sure this guy went to prison. That’s what the jury did agree to, they agreed to find a way to do that.”

Yust also faces five to 15 years behind bars for the voluntary manslaughter of Kara Kopetsky. LeVota says it will be interesting to see whether the jury decides that punishment for Kopetsky’s death should occur after Yust serves his time for killing Runions.

A so-called consecutive sentence could add up to another 15 years to the maximum punishment of 30 years for Runions’ murder. That’s how the maximum penalty gets to 45 years total, which is considered more than a life sentence in Missouri.

If the judge or jury decides punishment for both crimes should be served at the same time, that would reduce the length of Yust’s overall sentence.

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