Kansas City man gets lengthy prison term for killing 2 women

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — A Kansas City man convicted of killing two women a decade apart was sentenced Monday to life in prison for one of the killings and 15 years behind bars for the other, with the terms to run consecutively.

Kylr Yust, 32, was convicted in April of second-degree murder in the death of Jessica Runions, 21, of Raymore, and voluntary manslaughter in the death of Kara Kopetsky, 17, of Belton.

The Cass County jury that convicted him recommended life in prison for Runions’ death and 15 years in Kopetsky’s death, and Cass County Circuit Judge William Collins followed those recommendations. Collins also denied Yust’s motion for a new trial.

Yust’s attorney, Sharon Turlington, said in court that an appeal is planned. She had asked that the sentences run concurrently.

Prosecutors told jurors in April that Yust killed the women because they rejected him. Turlington said no physical evidence connected him to either death.

The two women were both seen with Yust before they disappeared. Runions left a party with him before she went missing in September 2016. Kopetsky had taken out a protection order against Yust a month before she was last seen leaving Belton High School in April 2007.

A mushroom hunter found their bodies near each other in a Cass County field south of Kansas City in April 2017. Runions’ remains were identified quickly but Kopetsky’s remains weren’t positively identified until August of that year.

Yust testified during his trial that he didn’t kill either woman and suggested that his half-brother, Jessep Carter, was responsible for the deaths. Carter died by suicide in 2018 while being held in the Jackson County jail on a charge of second-degree arson.

Yust was originally charged in October 2017 with two counts of first-degree murder but the jury found him guilty of the lesser charges.