Former prosecutor weighs in on why Yust wasn't charged sooner

Posted at 6:59 PM, Oct 06, 2017
and last updated 2021-03-09 13:25:12-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Former Johnson County Prosecutor Paul Morrison, who is now in private practice, weighed in on the case against Kylr Yust in Cass County, Missouri.

Yust was just charged with murdering Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions 10 years apart. Runions was last seen leaving a party with Yust and Kopetsky was his ex-girlfriend.

"Cases like this you wait, because you hope that time is your friend, and the case might get better," Morrison said.

It took a mushroom hunter discovering Runions's remains in April to finally find out after a decade where Kopetsky's were. Where they were murdered is still a mystery.

Those roadblocks are why Morrison says prosecuting in circumstantial cases can be a tough choice.

"If you're too quick on the trigger, can you file charges and if you can't make that, and that person gets acquitted, what good have you done?" Morrison said.

Morrison said the public often forgets that once you try someone, you can't try that person on the same charge again.

According to court documents, over the years since Kopetsky went missing in 2007, Yust confessed to at least six people that he had choked Kopetsky to death and dumped her body in the woods.

Those people, who were former friends and a cellmate of Yust's, told the police. Those alleged confessions happened over the span of 2007 to 2016.

"It's always going to come down to, is that person that's saying they heard this, is that person credible?" Morrison said.

But the question remains: why didn't police charge Yust with murder sooner?

Morrison wouldn't provide his own opinion, but said, "That's a judgment call on the prosecutor's behalf. Do I think I can prove this to a jury of 12 people?"

The Belton Police Department, who initially investigated Kopetsky's disappearance, is referring all questions to the Cass County Prosecutor.