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Kansas City man testifies he didn’t kill 2 Cass County women

April 15, 2021 GMT
Kylr Yust and his attorney Molly Hastings, left, listen to the opening statement of defense attorney Sharon Turlington, Monday, April 5, 2021 in Harrisonville, Mo. Prosecutors began to make their case that the man killed two Kansas City-area women nearly a decade apart. Selection of a jury for the trial of Kylr Yust was completed Wednesday in St. Charles County. (Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star via AP, Pool)
Kylr Yust and his attorney Molly Hastings, left, listen to the opening statement of defense attorney Sharon Turlington, Monday, April 5, 2021 in Harrisonville, Mo. Prosecutors began to make their case that the man killed two Kansas City-area women nearly a decade apart. Selection of a jury for the trial of Kylr Yust was completed Wednesday in St. Charles County. (Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star via AP, Pool)

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man on trial for two counts of first degree murder has testified that he didn’t kill the two women but suggested that his dead half-brother did.

Kylr Yust took the stand in his own defense Wednesday in connection to the deaths of 17-year-old Kara Kopetsky and 21-year-old Jessica Runions. Yust left a party with Runions before she disappeared in September 2016. Kopetsky had filed a protection order against Yust in April 2007, a month before she was last seen. The women’s remains were found near each other in a wooded area in 2017.

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Yust, 32, testified on Wednesday that he did not kill the women, and suggested that his half-brother, who died by suicide in 2018, was involved in their deaths.

“I didn’t do anything to either of them.” he said.

Yust testified that on May 4, 2007 — the day Kopetsky disappeared — he was at this grandfather’s house and at band practice. He said he believed that his half-brother, Jessep Carter, was going to take Kopetsky to a skate park, The Kansas City Star reported.

Yust later learned people were searching for Kopetsky and allowed her worried aunt and uncle to look around his apartment to show that Kopetsky wasn’t there, he testified.

In 2018, Carter died by suicide while he was being held in the Jackson County jail on a charge of second-degree arson. Yust testified that he believed Carter, 32, killed himself because Yust pleaded not guilty in Kopetsky’s and Runions’ deaths.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Julie Tolle accused Yust of trying to create an alibi on the day of Kopetsky’s disappearance and said he knew “exactly where” Kopetsky was because he had strangled her to death. Yust denied the accusations.

Tolle also said that Yust had not accused Carter in the killings until Wednesday. He replied that he told his attorney, Molly Hastings, about it years ago and she was representing him for free because she believed him.

Yust defense attorney Sharon Turlington said the state’s case lacks concrete proof or physical evidence.

“Somehow Kylr is supposed to have pulled off two murders without leaving a trace,” Turlington said, later saying there is no DNA linking Yust to either crime.

The case went to the jury Wednesday evening.