No change of judge in Kylr Yust trial after defense alleges victim connections

Appointed judge asks for decision on venue
Kylr Yust Defense Team on March 3rd
Posted at 11:34 AM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 18:49:49-05

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — There will be no change in judge for Kylr Yust’s trial, another judge appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Wednesday morning.

Yust is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse in the deaths of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions.

Yust’s defense team had filed a motion for a change of judge after they say they received an anonymous letter alleging connections between Judge William Collins and the victims’ families.

Collins denied the claims but did ask the state’s high court to appoint a senior judge to hear the motion.

On Wednesday, Kopetsky's parents, Rhonda and Jim Beckford, denied in court to ever speaking with Collins.

Yust's defense team also ordered the editor and co-owner of the North Cass Herald, Allen Edmonds, to testify.

"I assume [it was] an attempt to show evidence that the judge is somehow manipulating the case," Edmonds said.

Edmonds requested and received a court filing that's under seal related to the ongoing Yust case.

"So I wondered if I'd gotten it by mistake. I contacted the county - I contacted the circuit clerk and she said no, the judge ruled it's a public document," Edmonds said.

Eventually Judge Brandon Baker from Henry County said the defense didn't show enough evidence for a new judge to preside over the case.

Judge Baker also ruled Wednesday that Collins needs to make a decision on whether or not the case will be moved to St. Charles County.

Due to the high publicity surrounding the case in the Kansas City area, the jurors are already being selected from St. Charles County.

Both sides, however, previously agreed for the trial to be held in Cass County.

The trial, which has been delayed due to case developments and the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to begin in early April.