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Witness testimony in Kylr Yust murder trial focuses on relationship, investigation

Day 2 looks at 2007 death of Kara Kopetsky
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Posted at 5:46 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 23:35:59-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jurors heard from 15 witnesses in the double murder trial of Kylr Yust Tuesday, the first of whom was an alleged victim's mother.

Yust is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the 2007 death of Kara Kopetsky and the 2016 death of Jessica Runions.

LISTEN: Journey for Justice podcast trial update #2

Tuesday's witnesses were largely involved in the Kopetsky case. Her mother, Rhonda Beckford, was first to take the witness stand.

Beckford provided background information about Kopetsky and Yust's relationship, and read a poem her daughter wrote about him.

"I want to go back but we have seen too much bad... Pressing charges on the one I love, scared of the person I used to love... I'm through," Beckford read.

Several of Kopetsky's friends were called to the stand Tuesday and also talked about the relationship. Many said they noticed tension, possessiveness and instances of abuse between Kopetsky and Yust.

READ: Witness-by-witness rundown of Tuesday's testimony

Some described seeing bruises on Kopetsky's arms and other signs and accounts of abuse.

Multiple friends said they told Kopetsky to leave Yust and report the abuse.

Jurors heard from Amy Clark, who was among the first to report Kopetsky missing.

After an incident involving Yust in the days before Kopetsky's disappearance, Clark said she felt something bad had happened to Kopetsky when none of their friends were able to contact her, prompting Clark to go to the police.

Testimony also focused aspects of the early investigation. Several former and retired members of the Belton Police Department, who were involved in the search for Kopetsky in the days immediately following her disappearance, were called to the stand.

The defense spent quite a bit of time cross examining these witnesses, working to establish holes in the investigation.

They alleged there were leads that were not adequately investigated in 2007, including a tip that Kopetsky had been seen at a local QuikTrip.

The defense also alleged a Belton detective didn't do enough to verify Yust's whereabouts on the day of Kopetsky's disappearance, which would provide him an alibi.

Judge William Collins ended Tuesday's session just after 4:30 p.m. Court will reconvene at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

41 Action News seeks to provide in-depth coverage in this coverage. In the player below, listen to our podcast mini-series "Journey for Justice: The trial of Kylr Yust." You can also listen via your preferred podcast app.

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.