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Judge set to decide how long killer Kylr Yust will spend behind bars

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    HARRISONVILLE, Missouri (KCTV, KSMO) — Kylr Yust faces a judge Monday to receive a prison sentence for his role in the deaths of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions.

A jury found Yust guilty of voluntary manslaughter in connection to the death of Kopetsky, and second-degree murder in connection to the death of Runions. Jurors recommended the maximum sentences for the convictions.

Voluntary manslaughter has a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison in Missouri. Second-degree murder is punishable by life in prison.

Whether Yust serves the sentences consecutively or concurrently impacts when he may be eligible for parole.

Jurors issued the recommendation after a 16-hour deliberation following an 8-day trial in April 2021.

The families of the two women gave emotional victim impact statements as they asked the jurors for justice.

“Four years ago, I lost my best friend, my protector and my favorite person in the world,” said one of Jessica’s sisters, Megan Runions.

“She loved her sisters. Protected her sisters. She loved her family,” said Jamie Runions, Jessica’s mother. “Every birthday since was 16 she made her sisters cupcakes.”

Runions was last seen in September 2016. Kopetsky went missing May 2007. Their remains were found in a wooded area in Cass County.

Kopetsky’s parents said they waited many years for their daughter’s killer to face jail time.

“Kara was a special person. Loving caring, carefree, loyal, and fast to forgive. That forgiveness is what cost her, her life,” said Kara’s mother Rhonda Beckford.

“She meant everything to me,” Michael Kopetsky, Kara’s father, said. “Kara was my only child.”

Kara’s stepfather Jim Beckford said he holds on to every memory of her.

“Her cell phone has been on. It’s on right now. If you call it, you hear her voice. I called it Sunday night to hear one wisp of her voice,” he said.

Yust insisted he did not kill either woman. Yust’s defense attorney, Molly Hastings, asked the jury to consider the person Yust is today.

“Believe it or not there are some people who like him, who think he is a good friend,” she said.

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