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Day 6 of Yust trial focuses on evidence, expert testimony

Kieth Todd.jpg
Posted at 5:16 PM, Apr 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-10 19:30:36-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The jury in the Kylr Yust murder trial was presented with several pieces of evidence and expert testimony Saturday, including photographs of human remains.

The sixth day of the trial marked the final day of the state's case presentation. The prosecution rested at the end of the day and court will resume at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

First up to the witness stand Saturday was Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department Det. Jason Findley, who was mainly involved with the Jessica Runions case.

LISTEN: Journey for Justice podcast trial update #6

Findley discussed the relationship between Yust and Runions that he could see through their online messages. He also talked about different tips and leads he followed up on and search warrants that were carried out during the investigation.

Findley pointed out is that Yust had a friend, Joe "Trey" Monteil, who lived within 1.3 miles of where the girls' remains were found, making Yust likely familiar with the area.

With Findley's testimony, the defense wanted to bring in Jessep Carter as a possible suspect in Jessica's disappearance, but Judge William Collins did not allow that.

Second on the stand was Belton Police Department Det. Pat McKarnin, who eventually became the lead investigator on the Kara Kopetsky case.

McKarnin's time on the stand was brief, but he explained how GPS tracking placed Yust's car within 0.16 miles of where the remains were found just three months after Kopetsky went missing.

The third witness called Saturday was FBI Special Agent John Hauger, who the jury heard from earlier in the week. Hauger is an expert on cell phone data.

Hauger detailed the last time Runions' phone was used when she disappeared, and also pointed out that Carter's phone was not in the area at the time.

He also said that in 2017, by the time he knew of possible records of Yust's phone location in 2016, the records would have been long gone. Hauger was asked if at any time Yust's phone was in the area where remains were found in September 2016 when Runions disappeared -- he said no.

One witness, who many people were waiting to hear from, was mushroom hunter Keith Todd, who discovered one set of remains in the woods, which led investigators to the second set of remains.

Todd admitted he was trespassing while hunting for mushrooms when he found a skull. He did receive reward money from the FBI but said he was simply looking for mushrooms, not for information leading to the reward.

Cass County Deputy Justin Claibourn, who responded to the scene when Todd found the remains, was called to the stand as the fifth witness before the court moved to lunch.

Two toxicology experts were called to the stand after the lunch break.

The first said that results of Runions' toxicology from decomposed brain matter showed nicotine, but no THC from marijuana, which typically doesn't show up in that type of test.

The second toxicologist confirmed that and said the ideal tissue to test would have been blood, but they did not have that in this case.

Witness No. 8 for the day was Dr. John Filippi, a dental records expert who was asked to do a hands-on examination of the remains to identify Kopetsky and Runions based on their dental records.

Runions' remains were positively identified through wires from orthodontics work and fillings. Filippi also examined Kopetsky's skull with some teeth left intact and some that were recovered separately at the scene.

Ultimately, Kopetsky's remains were identified through DNA, according to the ninth witness, Charity Davis, a DNA expert from an FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia.

One of Kopetsky's bones was sent to Quantico, and Davis established a DNA profile for Kopetsky.

The final witness of the day was Dr. Diane Peterson, a former Jackson County Medical Examiner who examined both sets of remains in 2017.

Peterson said the area where the remains were found could be identified as their point of origin because the vegetation in the area was much lusher and that there was no attempt to bury the remains found.

A clump of hair was found with Runions' remains, according to Peterson, and the hair was still contained in a hair tie.

She also said that out of 205 human bones, just over 50 of Kopetsky's bones were recovered. A similar number was found for Runions.

Peterson also explained how the process in which remains are examined. Photos of both women's skulls were shown to the jury and courtroom. Peterson said there were no signs of trauma on the bones recovered.

She also said she could not rule out strangulation as a cause of death because neck bones and cartilage that would show that kind of damage were not recovered for either body.

The court recessed after Peterson's testimony.

Monday's proceedings will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the case presented by the defense.

41 Action News is committed to bringing you complete coverage of the trial of Kylr Yust, the man accused in the murders of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions. Visit for all our stories, case details, timeline and more.