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Focus shifts to evidence in Day 5 of Kylr Yust murder trial

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jessica runions note to kylr yust
Posted at 5:25 PM, Apr 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-09 23:51:15-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The fifth day of Kylr Yust's murder trial began with emotional testimony from his deceased half-brother's wife but ultimately the prosecution focused largely on evidence in the Jessica Runions case.

Jessep Carter's wife, Crystal Taylor, gave an account of the events which transpired between Carter and Yust in the days following Runions' disappearance.

LISTEN: Journey for Justice podcast trial update #5

Taylor and Carter were living in Edwards, Missouri at the time. She said her mother in law called saying Yust was demanding to see Carter.

Taylor said she and Carter drove to south Kansas City to pick up Yust at his grandpa Alfred's house near 89th & Crescent.

From there, the three went to Carter's uncle Paul Andrulewicz's house at 59th & Manchester.

Taylor said she started to feel uneasy after a conversation with Yust about Runions. Yust told her they'd mutually broken up.

Then, she said he got a phone call. She assumed the person on the other line was calling to ask about Runions' whereabouts.

Yust responded that he'd talked to her that morning and she was "pissed off" at him.

"He said, 'Oh you haven't seen her?' He said something along the lines of, 'Oh you should file a missing persons report,'" Taylor said.

From there, the three went back to Alfred Yust's house, where Taylor said she was left in the basement while Yust and Carter left.

Carter returned about 45 minutes later, Taylor said, looking "mindblown" and "uneasy."

Taylor said when they left, she noticed Yust putting something in the bushes next door to the house.

They went to Carter's cousin's house in Lone Jack for about 15 minutes, where Taylor said Carter slid her a gun to hold without Yust seeing.

From there, they headed back home to Edwards. Taylor remembers Yust telling them to take the batteries out of their phone, and they complied.

Around 3 a.m., two sheriff's deputy vehicles pulled them over. Taylor said Yust was "freaking out."

Dep. Mitch Lambirth was one of the deputies called to help with the stop. He said that the Dodge Durango was driving erratically. Carter was driving at the time and had a suspended license and no insurance.

Lambirth said they found Taylor's gun and took it since Carter was a felon.

He recognized Yust from elementary school, but also noticed that Yust appeared extremely nervous, his knees were shaking uncontrollably and it looked like he peed his pants.

Whether or not Yust peed his pants was a point of contention between the prosecution and his defense, who argued that Lambirth had no idea whether it was actually pee or not.

The trio were allowed to leave. From there, Taylor said they dropped Yust off at a friend's vacant trailer near Edwards and headed back to his mother's house.

From there, they called the police. Yust was arrested a day later.

Taylor said after that night, Carter went "downhill" and they separated a couple years afterward.

Later, she saw his uncle's house ablaze on television with Carter as the arson suspect.

She gave heartfelt testimony about Carter's death by suicide in jail.

The uncle's house became central to Friday's arguments as both prosecutors and defense attorneys questioned Andrulewicz about burn barrels on his property.

In them, investigators found aerosol cans, black fabric and a buckle. Beside the barrels was a black Otter phone case.

Andrulewicz said after the trio left his house on Sept. 9 he noticed a fire in his burn barrel.

Jurors also heard from people present when Runions' burned car was found.

Galen Smith was first to report the car was on fire as he saw it on his way home from work around 2:30 a.m.

The tow truck driver who took her car from the scene, Steven McElroy, told the jury the car was too hot to tow it as he typically would have.

Instead, he had to drag the car to the KCPD impound lot, and it even reignited a couple times during the drive.

The next day, McElroy said he saw a missing persons poster for Runions on Facebook and recognized her license plate number.

He went to KCPD's South Patrol to report it was her car, where both of her parents showed up as well.

Next, the prosecution called several witnesses to examine photos of Yust's injuries when he was arrested in 2016.

A bomb and arson expert provided information on what kinds of injuries a person might experience if they lit an incendiary fire using gasoline.

The expert, Sgt. Terence Carter, said his arson squad determined gas was used as an accelerator in Runions' car fire.

In that case, when the gas ignites, it causes a large fire flash which Sgt. Carter said would cause burns and singed hair.

The jury saw several photos of Yust, taken in the days following his arrest. The experts said red marks on his face are consistent with burns.

Yust also had scratches on his hands and the left side of his face, along with large blisters on his fingers.

A KCPD crime lab analyst testified about hair samples collected from Yust, which he said showed signs of having been burned or exposed to high heat.

Another KCPD analyst earlier in the day provided perspective on DNA evidence collected in the case.

Jarrah Kennedy performed DNA testing on a sweatshirt collected as evidence. The sweatshirt was found in the bushes next to Alfred Yust's house, similar to what Taylor testified.

Kennedy testified that she found some "areas of interest" on the hoodie, which were black and several brown stains, though none of them were indicated to be blood.

In majority of the samples taken from the sweatshirt, Yust and Runions were identified as DNA contributors, along with a third possible contributor.

Kennedy described Yust and Runions as "major contributors" on the black stain.

Court wrapped up for the day with testimony from a crime scene investigator who searched the place Yust was living at the time.

She found a note from Runions to Yust in his bedroom, in addition to swabs with blood on them.

The investigator said there were not large amounts of blood in the house and no signs of struggle.

Court will resume Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

The prosecution has 10 witnesses prepared to testify.

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 kshb.com/yusttrial for all our stories, case details, timeline and more.